Lennon's Copy of Document That Ended Beatles' Relationship With Allen Klein To Be Sold

The Beatles photographed at a press conference at Maple Leaf Center in Toronto, Canada on Sept. 7, 1964.
The Bob Bonis Archive

The Beatles photographed at a press conference at Maple Leaf Center in Toronto, Canada on Sept. 7, 1964.

A 1977 document that settled a lawsuit between the Beatles and Allen Klein and also ended Klein's stormy association with the Beatles is being sold by Moments in Time, the company has announced. The asking price is $95,000.

The suit was filed in 1973, when the Beatles decided to not renew Klein's contract. Klein promptly sued them for $19 million (roughly $75.3 million today). According to the company, the settlement, made between Apple Corps Ltd., Klein's ABKCO Industries Inc. and Klein, dated Jan. 8, 1977, ruled that Apple had to pay Allen Klein and ABKCO just over $5 million (or roughly $19.8 million now) while Klein had to pay out a total of $800,000 (roughly $3.2 million now). According to a 1977 report on the settlement in Billboard, that money was divided between Harrisongs Ltd., Richard Starkey (Ringo Starr's real name), Apple Films Ltd. and Apple Records.

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The agreement said that it released Apple from “any liabiity whatsoever” related to the relationship of the Beatles and Klein. The suit cost ABKCO $1.2 million in legal fees over a year from Sept. 30, 1975. Paul McCartney was not involved in the suit or the settlement but was “delighted to see his friends end this problem,” according to Lee Eastman of Eastman and Eastman, who represented him.

In Fred Goodman's recently released biography of Klein, titled Allen Klein: The Man Who Bailed Out the Beatles, Made the Stones, and Transformed Rock & Roll, the author notes that Klein, who was said to have conducted Kissinger-like negotiations, made a non-negotiable demand in settling the suit. “John has to have dinner with me tonight!,” Klein is quoted by Goodman. His attorney tried to talk him out of it, saying Lennon wouldn't agree. “No dinner, no deal. Just go tell him,” Klein insisted, according to Goodman. According to Moments in Time, he got his wish. Klein, Lennon and Yoko Ono were later pictured by photographer Bob Gruen with the document on a loaf of bread.

The Beatles' relationship with Klein began Jan. 28, 1969, at a meeting with Lennon and Ono at the Dorchester Hotel. Klein later met with Ringo Starr and George Harrison, then a meeting with all four Beatles was arranged. But Paul McCartney refused to allow Klein to represent him and a major disagreement that became a major cause of friction among the Beatles began.

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Allan Kozinn, who covered the Beatles for many years for The New York Times and now writes for the Wall Street Journal and is also the author of The Beatles: From the Cavern to the Rooftop (Phaidon), said Lennon's change of heart about Klein was quite an about-face. “John Lennon's thinking about Allen Klein evolved fairly quickly between 1969, when he was the strongest advocate for Klein to be the Beatles manager, and 1973, when their business association was dissolved by this contract. It can't have helped that George Harrison had already experienced problems to do with Klein's handling of the proceeds for the Concert for Bangladesh, and that both George and Ringo wanted to extricate themselves from Klein's management. Eventually Lennon said in a television interview that he had come to realize that Paul "might have been right" in his objections to Klein.

“One of his more pointedly angry songs, 'Steel and Glass,' has always been interpreted as his comment on his relationship with Klein -- although toward the end of his life, in a more self-analytical moment, he said that the song was really about himself."