A pair of sunglasses owned by John Lennon have sparked a bidding war after being made available on an internet auction site.

The glasses are expected to raise up to £1 million before the auction ends on July 31st as fans of the former Beatle compete for a rare piece of Lennon history.

Lennon gave the glasses to the Beatles' Japanese interpreter at the end of the band's tour of the country in 1966.

The group were at the height of their global fame at the time and as such were virtually prisoners in their own hotel room.

After becoming firm friends with interpreter Junishi Yore, Lennon gave him the pair of sunglasses in exchange for a set of traditional Japanese copper cups.

The glasses were altered in December 1980 after Mr Yore removed the lenses with his thumb as a mark of respect for Lennon who was shot dead outside of his apartment.

In a handwritten note which accompanies the glasses, Mr Yore writes: "John Lennon sunglass no lense (sic), given to myself producer Nippon TV Network, at time translator for Beatles at Tokyo Hilton.

"John Lennon wore same glasses at Budokan for shows, had silver glass too.

"He gave me this, I gave copper cups to him. Very nice man. Lenses removed when he die (black) as I/we feel he see us after death in Japan."

John Warner, sales director at 911.com, which is running the auction, said the glasses were an "iconic item".

"1966 was a rollercoaster year that saw Lennon creating his own identity, of which the round glasses were very much a part," he said.

"An item like this comes up so infrequently that it's impossible to predict how high the bidding will go. But we are anticipating huge interest from all over the world, both from institutions and private collectors, especially in the USA and Japan."

14/07/2007 15:49:51