Lennon, George Washington letters coming to N.Y. auction

NEW YORK — An upcoming auction of more than 300 historical documents includes rare letters written by Vincent van Gogh, George Washington, John Lennon and other iconic figures.

The property of an anonymous American collector is being offered by Profiles in History in an online and phone auction on Dec. 18.

Among the highlights is a two-page letter from Washington to an Anglican clergyman.

Another top item is a signed van Gogh letter, written in 1890, to Joseph and Marie Ginoux, who were proprietors of the Cafe de la Gare in Arles, France, where the Dutch post-impressionist artist lived for a time.

Each of those letters is estimated to bring $200,000 to $300,000.

A handwritten letter from John Lennon to Eric Clapton has a presale estimate of $20,000 to $30,000.

The collection will be exhibited Monday through Dec. 9 at Douglas Elliman’s Madison Avenue art gallery.

Washington’s letter was written on Aug. 15, 1798, to the Rev. Jonathan Boucher, amid an undeclared naval war with France. Washington thanks Boucher for sending him his “View of the Causes and Consequences of the American Revolution,” a book of 13 discourses Boucher preached.

In a Jan. 20, 1890, four-page letter, handwritten in French to his friends Monsieur and Madame Ginoux, van Gogh wishes the ailing proprietress a speedy recovery.

“Illnesses are there to make us remember again that we are not made of wood,” the artist wrote. “That’s what seems the good side of all this to me. Then afterward one goes back to one’s everyday work less fearful of the annoyances, with a new store of serenity.” Van Gogh died less than seven months later.

He suffered from acute anxiety and bouts of depression throughout his life. Madame Ginoux and the cafe were frequent subjects of his work.

The eight-page letter from Lennon is a draft he wrote to Clapton on Sept. 29, 1971, and signed “John and Yoko.” The whereabouts of the final version is unknown.

Lennon writes candidly about his admiration for the great British guitarist and suggests forming a “ ‘nucleus’ group (Plastic Ono Band) . — and of course had YOU!!! In mind as soon as we decided.” He writes that drummer Jim Kelnter, artist Klaus Voormann, pianist Nicky Hopkins and producer Phil Spector “all agreed so far” to join.

ä On the internet:

www.profilesinhistory.com