Man who tried to sell stolen John Lennon diaries charged in Germany

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[November 13, 2018]  BERLIN (Reuters) - A 59-year-old man was charged in Germany on Monday on suspicion of trying to sell stolen diaries and other items that had belonged to the late Beatle John Lennon.

The suspect, identified by the Berlin prosecutors' office only as Erhan G., in 2014 commissioned an auction house in Berlin to sell the items, receiving an upfront payment of 785,000 euros ($884,000), the office said in a statement.

The items, which were stolen from Lennon's widow Yoko Ono in 2006 and ended up in Berlin, also included letters, a recording of a Beatles concert and a pair of Lennon's glasses.

Among them was Lennon's last diary which ended on Dec. 8, 1980, the day he was shot and killed in New York.

It contained the entry that on that morning Lennon and Ono had an appointment with photographer Annie Leibovitz. The resulting portrait of a naked Lennon curled up around Ono on their bed ran on the January, 1981 cover of Rolling Stone magazine.

"Further documents, an illustration and another pair of John Lennon's glasses were found hidden in the suspect's car," the prosecutors' office said, adding it was charging the man with receiving stolen goods and conspiracy to fraud.

Police have said they suspected the items were stolen by Ono's former driver before being taken to Turkey and were only brought to Berlin in 2013 or 2014.

They were alerted after the items were found by the administrator for a bankrupt auction house, which had previously valued the objects at 3.1 million euros.

The items were handed over to Ono's lawyer on Sept. 21, 2018, the prosecutors' office said.

(Reporting by Maria Sheahan, editing by Ed Osmond)

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