Lennon’s 50cc Honda sells for €43k at celebrity auction

A Honda bike owned by John Lennon and Ringo Starr which Lennon used to whiz around his country estate, fetched more than five times its estimate yesterday.

The 1970 Honda 160Z “monkey bike” was part of Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia sale in London’s Knightsbridge and realised £36,000 (€45,430).

The bike was bought by Lennon as a fun way of getting around the acres of his home of Tittenhurst Park and was among items inherited by the subsequent owner, Starr, Bonhams said.

Starr employed the bike’s vendor, a landscape gardener, to undertake various projects on the estate over a number of years.

In 1986, Starr asked him to help move from Tittenhurst to a smaller property nearby.

During the move, the monkey bike was uncovered in one of the garages and, as a gesture of thanks for his help, Starr gave it to him.

The vendor put the 50CC machine, with 3,690 miles on the clock back, into working order and replaced the front headlamp and registration plate.

Also in the sale, a Steinway Grand piano that Elton John played for many rehearsals and celebrity singalongs at his Windsor home sold for £42,000 (€53,000).

The piano, which was expected to fetch £35,000 to £45,000, measures 8ft 11in and is made in a maple wood finish.

It was completed in Hamburg in 1971 and shipped to Steinway & Sons in London where it was purchased by Sir Elton to be housed at his Woodside residence in Windsor.

And George Formby’s original Abbott Monarch banjolele sold for more than three times its estimate for £72,000 (€91k).

Sold to a UK private buyer, the banjolele is believed to have been Formby’s favourite instrument.

His gold plated Dallas E banjolele which was used by the entertainer during his live performances fetched £21,600 (€27k).

The instrument was once owned by another Beatle – George Harrison.

At a concert in Digswell, Welwyn Garden City, Harrison met Jeffrey Formby, George Formby’s nephew.

Harrison offered to return the instrument to the family as a gift who preferred to purchase it. A copy of a letter from George Harrison to Jeffrey, dated 1991, is included with the lot.

Meanwhile, an original puppet head from Thunderbirds Are GO! modelled after Sean Connery, fetched £10,800 (€13,600).

A number of unseen photos of Lennon and Yoko Ono was also in the sale but failed to meet the reserve.


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