FBI seizes John Lennon fingerprints before auction

NEW YORK Thu Oct 7, 2010 1:05pm EDT

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NEW YORK (Reuters) - A set of John Lennon's fingerprints being auctioned for at least $100,000 has been seized by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, 30 years after the singer's death.

The 1976 signed application for Lennon's U.S. citizenship was one of the hallmarks of about 850 celebrity items in an online sale timed around Lennon's 70th birthday on Saturday.

The fingerprint card was being shown to media at a midtown New York store on Wednesday in an auction preview of more than 90 Beatles items when the FBI faxed a subpoena there and took the card.

Lennon was born in Liverpool, England and had been investigated by the FBI in the early 1970s for anti-war activity.

Peter Siegel, co-founder of GOTTA HAVE IT!, the shop selling the fingerprint card, said he was bewildered by the FBI action, and interest during the week also by Homeland Security.

"This great icon has been deceased for 30 years," he said. "This is not a national threat."

The card was consigned to the shop by a well-known promoter who bought it about 20 years ago, Siegel said.

In a week-long discovery, Siegel said the FBI, "with a sense of urgency," was concerned with whether the card had been part of Lennon's file and was lost or missing.

"We're investigating how the item came to be in a private collection," FBI spokesman James Margolin said. "It is apparently a government document and would not normally be in the commercial stream."

Lennon's 1970s immigration attorney Leon Wildes told The New York Times that the fingerprint form was among papers in his possession that were missing after a 1976 television appearance.

(Reporting by Lynn Adler; Editing by Patricia Reaney)

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