Few seemed to notice when an unassuming four-story townhouse on charming cobblestoned street in the bohemian heart New York’s West Village changed hands earlier this year at $8.8 million. Perhaps that almost no one noticed shouldn’t be so surprising given a nearly $9 million townhouse in lower Manhattan has become, well, commonplace. However, the townhouse in question, which dates to the early 1900s, isn’t just any ol’ $9 million townhouse, it’s an almost forgotten real estate touchtone for Beatles fans, the first New York City home of John Lennon and Yoko Ono.
After the Beatles disbanded in 1970, John and Yoko packed their bags, left Tittenhurst Park, their historic estate near Ascot, and moved to New York City. (Lennon sold Tittenhurst Park in 1973 to his former bandmate Ringo Starr, who held on to it until the late 1980s, when it was sold to Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, former President of the UAE and former ruler of Abu Dhabi.)
After a stint at the posh St. Regis Hotel on the Upper East Side, and the release of his seminal solo album “Imagine,” the couple took up residence in a humble two-room walk-up apartment on Bank Street in the West Village. They rented the top-floor apartment, which had a winding staircase to a roof garden, from Lovin’ Spoonful drummer Joe Butler, who owned the building at the time.
During their time on Bank Street, they were in constant fear of being deported — the Immigration and Natural Service had ordered Lennon’s deportation based on alleged Communist ties — and sometimes used a neighbor’s telephone because they feared theirs was tapped.
They made a cozy home in the artist’s garret, where they were visited by a slew of high profile friends, including Jerry Rubin, Bobby Seale, and Alan Ginsburg. Alas, their romance with the West Village came to an end in 1973, when they were robbed by a former tenant of the apartment. Stolen items included a color TV set, which Lennon allegedly begged the robber to leave behind, and an address book that was later returned.