Price on Lennon?

November 27, 2011

Political Theory

John Lennon – the once great singer and songwriter for the one of the most well-known and accomplished bands in the world, the Beatles. Though his death was early and untimely, it inevitably made his music, personal items, and life that much more valuable. It is without question that Lennon’s impeccable work and utmost influence on our world today shall be savored for years to come; however, can we truly measure his life with a price, possibly at about $3,000 to $5,000?

As described in this article, even the simplest parts of John Lennon’s life are priced at a couple thousand dollars, each. Yes – this to-do list was created and owned by the great John Lennon, but is it really worth dropping such an absurd amount of money for, in reality, a simple piece of loose-leaf paper? To me, even if John Lennon was my all-time favorite musician and was my childhood idol, I’m not so confident that buying a random, useless, irrelevant piece of paper describing Lennon’s to-do list is truly worth the money it is being auctioned for. From this I question the person who ultimately chooses to purchase this: what made you decide to put your money toward such a seemingly useless item when the money can be spent toward college tuition, mortgage, or even new air conditioning? This item, if in your possession, may allow the owner some bragging rights but again, is it worth having thousands of dollars be put down the drain?

Let’s say you do decide to purchase this item, how can you confirm its authenticity? Couldn’t any person simply take paper, create a to-do list, and just claim it was written by the great John Lennon? Even after knowing this, is it worth the effort to seek the validity of the list after spending such a large sum? With all these questions in mind it seems purchasing this item, at least at this ridiculous price, is just unreasonable. However, if this list were to be auctioned and potentially sold at a lower price, then it may in fact be worth spending the money for the memorabilia. With this arises yet another question to ponder: at what point to do you purchase, or hold out? How can you measure an object’s, or in John Lennon’s case, a life’s value? If people are willing to spend this much for a piece of paper quickly written by an all-time great yet deceased musician, than John Lennon must be priced pretty high at that. Similarly, it seems that people are willing to degrade Lennon’s impact on society by placing a price on his head.

In our present economy, I would definitely suggest holding out from purchasing this item. It seems too easy to fall into retailer’s tricks and buy items that, in reality, do not enhance our lives in any shape or form. Purchasing John Lennon’s to-do list, especially at a whopping $3,000 to $5,000, is not worth it when today the value of money far surpasses the value of bragging rights. When money is well spent, you know it; for instance, buying a new car you know after driving it you become sure it was the right decision. With a piece of twenty year old paper, however, I am not so sure how right it will feel when you simply buy the list and hang it up on the wall. Despite all of this, even if you are a die-hard Beatles fan, is it fair to price the item to a point so steep that it can only be embraced and feasible to the wealthy?

From all of this I ask: in our harsh economic times, is it fair or even possible for someone to purchase such a valuable yet useless item? When does “famous” merchandise cross the line from realistic to idealistic in the eyes of a consumer? When is memorabilia, such as this list, overpriced or underpriced? What role does society play in influencing the public of these sort of items’ values? Hopefully understanding this will not only save John Lennon’s name as a priceless musician but will also keep a few extra bucks in your back pocket.




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3 Comments on “Price on Lennon?”

  1. hoeylue Says:

    Your story remind me of the Soccer World Cup 2006 in Germany when Germany played Argentine in the quarterfinals. The game was still a draw after the regular playtime was over. So both teams had to proceed to penalty shootings in order to find a winner of the game. For the not-soccer fans among you, a penalty shoot is a shoot taken from a point on the field which is 11 meters distance to the goal. The player tries to strike a goal while the goalkeeper tries to prevent it. Every team has 5 tries. The team with the most strikes wins the game. As you can imagine, there was a huge responsibility lying on the shoulders of the goalkeepers of both teams. Especially the German goalkeeper Jens Lehmann had the future of his team and millions of German fans in his hands. Fans who had filled the soccer stadiums in order to support their team and millions who were cheering across the whole country, either watching the game on TV or on the large screens on the streets, which had been installed during the World Cup all over Germany. Lehmann knew that he had no time to think in which direction to jump in order to catch the ball. He either had to rely on his instinct or, as he did, take a look at the piece of paper he was carrying around in his socks all game long. On this paper he had made a list of the Argentine players and which corners they prefer for a penalty shoot:
     1. Riquelme left high
     2. Crespo long approach right/ short approach left
     3. Heinze left flat
     4. Ayala long waiting, long approach left
     5. Messi left
     6. Aimar long waiting left
     7. Rodríguez left

    The game ended 5:3 for Germany, meaning that Lehmann got 3 of the directions right. After that games hundreds of fake Lehman papers appeared on the internet and some of them have been sold for high prices. Obviously even the belief that it could have been the original paper motivated real soccer fans to spend a lot of money to buy it. I think it’s about making people happy.

  2. rpsafian Says:

    I agree that paying 3,000 dollars for a piece of paper, no matter who wrote on it or what is written on it, is a pretty ridiculous purchase. However, the question that comes up in this case is the notion of value. Everyone in the world interprets value differently than everyone else. This is the reason why one person may choose to buy such an artifact like this and another person in another part of the world may live without a single material possession. It is definitely fair for someone that values this artifact more than the 3,000 dollars that they could save or spend on something else to purchase it. It is unfair to say that the person purchasing this is wrong, because who is to say what is right? You could also look at it in terms of the piece of paper itself. Who is to say that this piece of paper with some scribbled words on it is any different than the Mona Lisa hanging in The Louvre? Both pieces are simply a piece of paper with ink on them in the shape of meaningful symbols, no? Again, it comes down to value and how much something is worth to someone. I think that memorabilia should not be judged based on price, because one thing that seems expensive for one buyer might be just worth the cost to another buyer. This is the reason people buy designer clothes, drive fancy cars, and live in large houses, when in reality, humans could survive and function on the bare necessities of life. Personally, a letter written by John Lennon would be a pretty cool thing to have, but then it stops there. There’s nothing more than I could do with it than hang it on a wall so I could show it off to my friends and boost my ego. If owning something worth 3,000 dollars for the sake of owning it is worth it to the buyer, be my guest. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and someday someone may even want to buy this piece of writing.

  3. cobyj17 Says:

    I don’t think it is fair to discredit the legitimacy of paying this high a price for the to-do list. For an item that is only bought by an individual in an auction format, the only way this item could be overpriced is if it were not purchased. It only takes one person to value this to-do list at $3,000-$5,000 for this price to be legitimate. This follows fundamental economic principles. It is up to the individual to determine the value of this product, taking into account the fact that it may not be legitimate.

    Marx may take issue with this pricing. He may use this price, which seems high to most of us, as an example of the problem of capitalism. He might say that because only some can afford this price, pricing it this high oppresses the working class who are excluded from this auction. This representation of the difference in classes in our country would concern Marx.

    The most interesting aspect of this article, in my opinion, are the questions it raises about materialism in our society, and our obsession with celebrities. Are there negative aspects to having a society that values materials so highly? Can this create a culture of individualism and greed? Additionally, with a society so centered around celebrity life, does our culture drift too far away from potentially more meaningful forms of entertainment?

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