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Lot #5021
John Lennon's Vehicle Tax Disc for His 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V Limousine

The Phantom V hits the road—John Lennon's tax disc for his legendary 1965 Rolls-Royce limousine

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Estimate: $4000+
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The Phantom V hits the road—John Lennon's tax disc for his legendary 1965 Rolls-Royce limousine

John Lennon’s original vehicle tax disc for his famous 1965 Rolls-Royce Phantom V limousine, affixed inside its original metal Rolls-Royce disc holder, which measures 3.5˝ in diameter. The 12-month license, numbered “5 0254307,” with May 1966 expiration, is annotated in ballpoint, “FJB 111C, Private, Rolls Royce.” The lower portion bears a paid price of £17.10 and is postmarked in Berkshire on June 3, 1965. In fine condition. The consignor notes that the tax disc was acquired by her aunt, who attended multiple Beatles concerts and fan-based events during her lifetime, including the 1982 Beatlefest in New York City, where this item was ostensibly obtained.

After registering the car on June 3, 1965, Lennon began modifications for the Phantom V, which included converting the rear seat into a double bed and installing a television, telephone, custom sound system, and refrigerator. Lennon then commissioned J. P. Fallon Limited to have the car’s classic black matte-finish elaborately painted over in the style of a psychedelic gypsy wagon. The Beatles rode in the Phantom extensively during their heyday between 1965 and 1969, including traveling to Buckingham Palace where they received their Members of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire medals from Queen Elizabeth II.

When Lennon and Ono left England on August 31, 1971, the Phantom V was shipped to their new home in New York, where it was used as a rental car to various stars in the city such as the Moody Blues, Rolling Stones, and Bob Dylan. In late 1977, difficulties with the IRS forced Lennon to donate the vehicle, which was then in storage, to the Cooper–Hewitt Museum at the Smithsonian Institute to cover tax debt amounting to $225,000.

Accompanied by a signed letter of authenticity from rock and roll export Warwick Stone, who offers additional background history on Lennon’s Phantom V, in part: “I have examined the attached registration tag in its original Rolls Royce holder belonging to vehicle FJB 111C, which was the license plate on John Lennon's custom-ordered 1965 Rolls Royce Phantom V. Lennon took delivery of the car June 3 1965, with this tag issued in May and valid for a year. The car's original factory paint at that time was a very formal Matt Black, this is how the car looked when the Beatles rode in it to Buckingham Palace to receive their MBE's October 1965. This tag would have been displayed in the front windshield, May 65 to June 66, its first full year of registration with a cost of 17 pounds 10 shillings. In the fall of 1966 Lennon took the car to Spain while he was filming How I Won The War. That trip ruined the paintwork and on its return, the car was sent in to be repainted with its now famous Yellow Gypsy Wagon color scheme, delivered just in time to celebrate the release of Sgt Peppers in June 1967.”

Auction Info

  • Auction Title: Marvels of Modern Music
  • Dates: #693 - Ended May 23, 2024