When John’s Upper West Side optometrist was watching this week’s news about the recovery of a trove of the Beatle’s belongings — and spotted the metal-rimmed eyeglasses the rock legend had bought from him more than 40 years ago — the emotions came flooding black.
“I was almost crying when I saw that,” Dr. Gary Tracy, 69, told The Post, recalling the moment he saw the image of the round cable temple glasses with a folded handwritten prescription from 1978 bearing Tracy’s name on the letterhead.
“The same writing, the exact same paper from back then,” marveled Tracy, who is still in business. “It was pretty emotional to see that . . . I never knew they were stolen.”
The glasses were among about 100 items belonging to Lennon that were stolen more than a decade ago from his widow, Yoko Ono, at their apartment in The Dakota and recovered in Germany this week.
The trove included handwritten music, another pair of Lennon’s signature eyeglasses and three leather-bound diaries — one with his final entry before he was murdered outside The Dakota in 1980.
“[It] doesn’t surprise me they were stolen,” Tracy said, noting that the specs “are worth quite a bit of money.”
Tracy, who was Lennon’s optometrist and sold him more than a dozen spectacles from 1975 to 1979, keeps five pairs of Lennon’s old lenses and one pair of the rocker’s frames tucked away in a safe-deposit box in New Jersey.
“These are old prescriptions, and we put the new prescriptions in the glasses. I just saved the lenses,” said Tracy, speaking from the West 79th Street office where he moved four years ago from the original Columbus Avenue office that he opened in 1974.
Tracy would not say what John’s prescription was.
“[Ono] is very possessive of the estate,” he said, “and she makes sure no one knows the prescription.”
Tracy also keeps two handwritten notes John left him. They are locked away in a frame.
“You put the wrong glasses in. I wanted graded grey,” one reads, with “graded” underlined. “Change frame on new pair — something similar,” the other says.
But Tracy told: “I don’t think I put the wrong lenses in. I think he changed his mind — never argue with a customer.” Tracy recalled when he first met Lennon and Ono. It was in December 1975, after they were spotted “peeking” into his shop’s window.
“The next night, I’m doing my exam and finishing up and I heard someone come in [and say], ‘Can I get my eyes examined?’ and I knew that was his voice,” Tracy recalled. “I darted out to exam him.”
Tracy remembered how Lennon “loved glasses” and said that at one point, the Beatle was coming in every three weeks for repairs because he would break his glasses.
“He was rough on glasses, bounced around playing music,” Tracy said.
On this day: John Lennon returned his MBE to the Queen, as an act of protest against the Vietnam war.
John’s chauffeur Les Anthony returned the insignia of the award to Buckingham Palace in the morning, also delivering handwritten letters to the Queen, prime minister Harold Wilson, and the secretary of the Central Chancery, explaining his actions.
The letters were written on notepaper headed Bag Productions, the company Lennon had recently set up with Yoko Ono.
Your Majesty,I am returning my MBE as a protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against ‘Cold Turkey’ slipping down the charts.With love. John Lennon of Bag
German police presented on Tuesday diaries, pairs of glasses and other items belonging to late Beatle John Lennon that were stolen from his widow Yoko Ono in 2006 and eventually ended up in Berlin.
“This day contains the entry that on that morning John Lennon and Yoko Ono had an appointment with Annie Leibovitz to take a photo which I think is world famous,” Berlin prosecutor Michael von Hagen told a news conference.
The Leibovitz portrait of a naked Lennon curled up around Ono on their bed ran on the January 1981 cover of Rolling Stone magazine.
Hagen rejected suggestions that Ono might have lent or given away the objects: “The diaries especially … were also treated by Yoko Ono as something sacred. And the idea that she would have given away three original diaries, especially the one that ends on the very day Lennon died, can be completely ruled out.”
Carsten Pfohl, head of property crime for Berlin police, said investigators had found one of the pairs of glasses and a receipt in Lennon’s name hidden in the trunk of the car of the accused on Monday.
Police suspect that the items were stolen by Ono’s former driver and then taken to Turkey and were only brought to Berlin in 2013 or 2014. Another suspect lives in Turkey, they said.
John and Yoko Ono, 1980.
German police say they have arrested a man suspected of handling stolen objects from the estate of John Lennon, including diaries. Berlin police said the 58-year-old suspect, whom they didn’t identify, was arrested in the German capital on Monday. They said another suspect lives in Turkey and is currently “not available” for law enforcement authorities, without elaborating. Police said in a statement that the objects, including diaries written by the late Beatle, were stolen from Lennon’s widow, Yoko Ono, in New York in 2006.
They reappeared in Berlin, and authorities this year launched an investigation of suspected fraud and handling stolen goods and the objects were seized.