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London - The childhood home of John Lennon was auctioned for £480 000 (about R7.6m) at the legendary Cavern Club in Liverpool on Tuesday, almost double what had been estimated.
An anonymous telephone bidder outbid other Beatles fans for the red-brick terraced house where Lennon spent the first five years of his life and which is now in need of renovation.
Other houses in the area, not far from Penny Lane which was made famous by the song of the same name, are valued at around £150 000.
The property has always been privately owned, unlike the house of Lennon's aunt, also in Liverpool, where he lived from when he was 5 until he was 22, and which has been made into a museum by the National Trust conservation charity.
After the first 15 minutes of the auction in the Cavern Club, where the Beatles famously performed in their early years, disappointed fans decided they could not afford to keep up with the bidding.
“I would have loved to have it,” said Jackie Holmes, a fan who travelled from London to take part in the bidding. “Personally I don't think its worth it. It's the most expensive house in the street. That's why common sense prevailed in the end.”
Jason Doll-Steinberg, who bid right until the end, said he would have tried to return the house to the way it would have looked when Lennon lived there. “It's something special to own something so historic,” he said.
One of the former owners, who did not want to be named, suggested that Lennon's widow may have bought the property: “That will have been Yoko (Ono) on the phone,” he said.
Lennon was born in Liverpool in 1940 and met Paul McCartney, his long-term songwriting partner and fellow Beatle, as a teenager. George Harrison joined the band they formed shortly afterwards, followed by drummer Ringo Starr.
Lennon was killed in 1980 at the age of 40, when he was shot outside his apartment in New York by a man who later claimed to have been mentally ill. Harrison died of cancer in 2001. - Sapa-dpa