1967 Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band "Merkin Fedora" Worn on the Iconic Album Cover
Rarely, if ever, do you see anything that appeared on the greatest album cover in history: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. Some of the nearly life-sized stand-ups of the famous celebrities that appeared on the cover have come to auction and have brought tens of thousands of dollars. As far as we know this is the first actual object that was shown on the cover. This is the 1930s brown felt fedora hat worn on the cover of the most famous album cover in history, by legendary artist, writer, teacher and evocateur, Richard Merkin. A close friend of Leland's going back to the early 1990s, “Merkin” was a pioneer collector of baseball memorabilia as well as an important artist, writer and NYC personality famed for his longtime columns in Vanity Fair, GQ, as well as over 300 works for the New Yorker. His work is represented in the permanent collections of The Museum of Modern Art, Smithsonian and the Whitney, among others. His friend, Sir Peter Blake, famously designed the Sgt. Pepper cover, and it was Blake’s choice to add the enigmatic Merkin to Marilyn Monroe, Gandhi and the Beatles themselves. The piece is creatively displayed in this 25x20x13” glass covered cabinet, surrounded by a standing close-up of the photomatched pic of Merkin wearing the hat. Below is a mirror that has been strategically placed to show the inside of the hat with his unmistakable signature “R. Merkin” in the silk lining in green marker. Beside it stands the Letter of Authenticity from Merkin himself dated April 4, 2003. The letter reads in full, “To Whom This May Concern: This is the hat I am wearing in the back row of the album cover for Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club created by the British artist Sir Peter Blake, a good friend of mine. I testify to this (signed) Richard Merkin.” We obtained this hat directly from Richard Merkin who passed away in 2009. We miss him. Plaudits for Sgt. Pepper are prolific. The Oxford Encyclopedia of British Literature, describes it as "the most important and influential rock and roll album ever recorded.” This piece is a living representation of that great contribution to 20th century music and art that will live forever.