Thursday, July 26, 2012

When Did Allen Klein Buy John Lennon's White Rolls-Royce?

John and Yoko with Allen Klein in happier times, probably in the early 1970s
Guest blogger Eric Roberts reports:

One primary aim of this research blog has been achieved. We now know that John Lennon's white 1965 Rolls-Royce, last seen in public in the mid 1980s, still remains the property of the Klein family and is currently being restored in England. However, two salient points remain unanswered: when exactly did Lennon purchase this second-hand Phantom V Rolls-Royce, and when did he sell it?

In answer to the first question, we have established that he bought the ex-hire car in 1966, the same year that it appeared in the film, Georgy Girl. What we don't know is the precise date. Based on circumstantial evidence, we strongly suspect that Lennon felt the need for for a second Phantom V after his first encounter with Yoko Ono at the Indica Gallery in London on 9 November 1966. It is on record that soon after purchasing it, Lennon gave instructions for the entire car to be made white, both inside and out. Surely, this could only be a kind of homage to Yoko Ono, since white was her signature color.

As for the date that John Lennon sold the white Phantom, elsewhere in this blog it has been suggested that perhaps ownership transferred to Allen Klein in 1977, when Yoko Ono negotiated a deal with Klein which put an end to several years of litigation. Recently, though, new information has emerged that contradicts this assumption.

We owe Bob Lange of KarKix our thanks for alerting us to the fact that Allen Klein's former chauffeur, Alf Weaver, asserts in his autobiography that sometime in late 1969, Klein acquired John and Yoko's famous limo. The relevant paragraph in Weaver's book is worth quoting verbatim. On page 93 we read:

My job during 1969 also now included keeping close to Klein, but he was only in the UK about one week in every eight. He was mostly based at his glass tower in New York, the ABKCO offices, on Broadway. A bit later in the year, Allen asked me to pick up his new car. Actually, it was John's old car, his Rolls-Royce Phantom V limousine, EUC 100C. Lennon had bought it in 1966 and completely resprayed it (white) and refitted its interior (white shag and white seats). John liked white. Lennon and Klein sealed the deal. $50,000, I think. Good price, John. I picked the car up at Hoopers in Kilburn and ended up driving it for the next decade, on and off.

(Quoted from The First Rock 'n' Roll Bodyguard, Alf Weaver and Robert Ashton. London: Sanctuary Publishing, 2001. ISBN: 1-86074-328-5.)

We are inclined to believe Alf Weaver's claim, despite Tony King's recollection that the car remained in the garage at Tittenhurst after Ringo bought John and Yoko's mansion in 1973. After all, if anyone is in a position to know when Allen Klein bought EUC 100C, it's Klein's driver.

Alf Weaver and friend on the bonnet of Allen Klein's Phantom V in 1976, ten years after John Lennon bought it

So with what make and model of car did John replace his '65 white Rolls-Royce Phantom V? In 1970 he bought a white Mercedes-Benz 600 Pullman, which you can read about here:

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