Published On: Tue, Jan 30th, 2024

Stuart Sutcliffe novel sale could confirm Fifth Beatle’s affair with John Lennon | Music | Entertainment


A treasure trove of paintings and letters by the ‘5th Beatle’ is up for sale, and the collection even includes a novel on the late great John Lennon. The Sutcliffe Estate, previously managed by Stuart Sutcliffe’s sister Pauline before her passing, is looking for a buyer for the entire archive.

The Beatles would not exist as they are today without the influence of creative Stuart Sutcliffe, who was the original bassist for the historically celebrated band when they first hit the scene. Sutcliffe met John Lennon at an art school in Liverpool, and the pair later joined Paul McCartney and George Harrison to form The Quarrymen.

The name “The Beatles” was originally dreamt up by the artsy Sutcliffe and Lennon, who drew inspiration from Beat poets and Buddy Holly’s rock’n’roll band The Crickets.

John Lennon and Stuart Sutcliffe’s relationship has been the subject of much speculation by friends and fans over the years. Many regard it as simply a close friendship, but, according to Sutcliffe’s sister Pauline, it was more than that.

In her book The Beatles Shadow, Pauline wrote “I have known in my heart for many years that they had a sexual relationship, but to protect my mother while she was alive, and out of an old-fashioned sense of propriety, I kept my counsel.”

This makes the news of a novel on John Lennon, albeit unfinished, written by Stuart Sutcliffe a very interesting and potentially revealing prospect.

While on tour with The Beatles in Hamburg Sutcliffe wrote to his sister Pauline “I’ve become very popular both with girls and homosexuals, who tell me I’m the sweetest, most beautiful boy.”

During the tour, he ended up falling in love with German Photographer Astrid Kirchherr, who was in the audience at one of the gigs and naturally very impressed.

Unfortunately, in 1962 Stuart Sutcliffe died tragically and suddenly at the age of just 21 due to a brain haemorrhage – something that shook Lennon badly, so much so that he couldn’t bring himself to attend his friend’s funeral.

Lennon said “I looked up to Stu. I depended on him to tell me the truth, Stu would tell me if something was good and I’d believe him.”

In his short life, Sutcliffe accumulated an impressive art collection, with special emphasis on abstract expressionism.

The Sutcliffe Estate describes the collection – “This comprehensive archive comprises over 400 poetic artworks, several amid prior exhibits in prestigious galleries and museums. Complimenting the art includes 200 documents: letters, poems, essays, and an incomplete novel about John Lennon.”

Pauline Sutcliffe originally wanted to sell the archive in 1999 saying “I would feel then that I had done my bit and would be able to free myself from the Beatles, I have been trapped by them most of my life—I wanted to say goodbye.”

Pauline sadly died in 2019, so the archive is now managed by Diane Vitale who says “I’d like to keep it together – that was Pauline’s dream from the very beginning.”

Unsurprisingly, the listing has received a lot of interest since being up on the 23rd of January this year. However, Vitale will not let on how much she’s asking for, and states “I’m willing to speak to anyone who’s serious.”



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