A psychedelic eye mosaic commissioned by John Lennon for the swimming pool at his Kenwood home in 1965 leads Bonhams’ Rock, Pop & Film sale on Wednesday 29 November at Knightsbridge, London.
Claire Tole-Moir, Bonhams Head of Popular Culture in London, commented: “This monumental mosaic, commissioned by John Lennon is a striking example of the Beatle’s artistic vision and influences. Lennon’s Kenwood home was a place of respite from all the public attention he experienced during the height of The Beatles’ popularity. It’s said Lennon would spend idle hours near the swimming pool and that the mosaic could even be seen from his favored ‘sunroom’ at the top of the house. With Kenwood still under private ownership, it is very rare to see anything from when John Lennon lived there, making the ‘Psychedelic Eye’ mosaic an incredibly important artifact of Beatles history.”
Comprising of approximately 17,000 tiles, the mosaic was created by Joseph Ritrovato, a master tiler who single-handedly installed it on the deep-end wall of John Lennon’s swimming pool at Kenwood in Surrey in 1965. On 29 June 1967, John was visited at Kenwood by Johnny Dean and Leslie Bryce, the editor and photographer of The Beatles Monthly respectively. John and Julian Lennon were photographed in and around the house, including beside the swimming pool with the mosaic in the shot.
John Lennon owned Kenwood from July 1964 to late spring 1968. The mosaic remained in situ within the swimming pool at Kenwood from 1965 until 1984, when it was removed from the pool wall for preservation by the then-owners of Kenwood and by the mosaic’s joint owners for it to be available for public exhibition. The John Lennon ‘Psychedelic Eye’ mosaic first went on public display at The International Garden Festival at the Royal Festival Gardens, Liverpool from 1985 until its closure in 1987. It remained on the site until 2002, when it was moved to The Museum of Liverpool Life. The mosaic was also part of the V&A’s international blockbuster exhibition on counterculture, ‘You Say You Want a Revolution?’ in 2016.
Other highlights of the sale include:
• The Hilary Gerrard collection, former Business Manager to Ringo Starr. Comprised of 60-lots, includes gifts, posters, books, disc awards, furniture and cards given by members of the Beatles. Highlights include a drawing of Hilary Gerrard by John Lennon (estimate: £6,000-8,000), and an Egg Chair believed to be custom-made by EMI, 1969 (estimate: £2,500 – 3,500).
• Items from Marc Bolan’s manager Tony Howard, including lyrics, drawings, letters, photographs, t-shirts, and backstage passes, never before offered at auction, including an original hand-drawn design for the single cover of Telegram Sam by Marc Bolan,1972, (estimate: £600-800) and original photography by Terry O’Neill, Michael Putland, Peter Howe and Steve Emberton.
• Original artwork for Noddy Holder’s Slade seasonal hit ‘Merry Xmas Everybody’. To mark the 50th anniversary of the release of the song, with all proceeds to be donated to the mental well-being charity, Retune. Estimate: £3,000-5,000.
• Led Zepplin: An Autographed Copy of the Album Led Zeppelin II, early 70s reissue. Estimate: £20,000-30,000.
• An original Joy Division poster for ‘Unknown Pleasures’, 1979, from Natalie Curtis, daughter of lyricist and frontman of Joy Division, Ian Curtis (1956-1980) Estimate: £3,000-4,000.
• Costume design material for Freddie Mercury’s famous rainbow-coloured ‘arrow’ jacket made for Queen’s Hot Space 1982 tour, offered by the seamstress who made it. Estimate: £2,000-3,000.
• A wide selection of music memorabilia donated to this auction for charity by Warner Music and stars; Liam Gallagher, Motley Crue, Slash, Radiohead, Arctic Monkeys, Abba, Pearl Jam, Nile Rodgers, Slipknot, Greenday, and Michael Bublé for charities: EarthPercent, Metal For Good, Children with Cancer UK.
• Robert Rosen: A Large Group of Vintage Polaroids Taken by Rosen and Signed by Various Film/Music/TV Stars, 1980s-00s.) Approximately 340 colour Polaroids, each signed in various inks by the celebrity featured in the images, notable people include; David Bowie, Bill Wyman, Grace Jones, Elton John, Sting, Mary Quant, Marianne Faithful, Pete Townsend, Audrey Hepburn, Stevie Knicks, Andrew Ridgeley, BB King, Kylie Minogue, Olivia Newton-John, Nicole Kidman, Ru Paul, Cate Blanchette, Yoko Ono, David Hockney, Karl Lagerfeld, Patrick Hughes, Naomi Campbell, Peter Blake, Thierry Mugler, David Bailey, Paloma Picasso, Jean Shrimpton, Diana Ross, Ella Fitzgerald, Etta James, Marcel Marceau, Francis Bacon, Bob Geldof, Helmut Newton, David Attenborough, Christopher Reeve, Jean Paul Gautier, Ronnie Corbett, Joanna Lumley, Geraldine Chaplin, Omar Sharif, Ian McKellen, Michael Caine, Muhammad Ali, Jerry Hall, Boy George, Nico. Estimate: £30,000-35,000.