John Lennon Image Credit: GN Archives

The album signed by John Lennon for his assassin 40 years ago is up for auction in New York, as his widow and former Beatles band mates on paid tribute to him.

The copy of ‘Double Fantasy’ that Lennon signed for Mark David Chapman a few hours before his death on December 8, 1980 is being sold by a private collector through New Jersey-based Goldin Auctions.

Bidding on Tuesday stood at $450,000 but a spokesman said the auction house expected it to sell for about $1.5 million at the close of the online auction on Saturday.

File photo shows Mark David Chapman, the man who killed John Lennon. Image Credit: AP

Chapman, a borderline psychotic from Hawaii, shot Lennon four times at close range for what he called “self-glory.” The musician was returning home to the Dakota Apartments by Central Park with his wife, Yoko Ono. Lennon, 40, died on the way to hospital.

Goldin Auctions said Chapman had got Lennon to sign the album earlier in the day and then threw it in a planter outside the Dakota Apartments after the shooting. It bears police markings from when it was taken into evidence.

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(FILES) In this file photo taken on June 29, 1966 the British band The Beatles, (L to R) Paul McCartney, John Lennon, Ringo Starr and George Harrison, holding a press conference in Tokyo at the start of their tour. - John Lennon's career was cut short 40 years ago, on December 8, 1980, when he was shot dead in New York. (Photo by JIJI PRESS / JIJI PRESS / AFP) / Japan OUT Image Credit: AFP

Goldin Auctions called it “arguably the most important Rock N Roll relic ever for sale.” In tributes on Tuesday to the late Beatle, Paul McCartney tweeted; “A sad sad day, but remembering my friend John with the great joy he brought to the world.” Ringo Starr, the other surviving Beatle, said: “I’m asking Every music radio station in the world sometime today play ‘Strawberry Fields Forever’. Peace and love.”

Ono called for peace and gun law reform and tweeted the photograph she took of Lennon’s blood-splattered eyeglasses, with the message: “Over 1,436,000 people have been killed by guns in the U.S.A. since John Lennon was shot and killed on Dececember8, 1980.”