The state's top prosecutor sued the small and financially troubled Chicago museum in Cook County Court on Feb. 8 to turn over an acoustic guitar that belonged to the former Beatle and all other artifacts from the peace-loving institution.
"The Peace Museum's property is in need of charitable protection," the lawsuit alleged, because the museum has gone belly up and hasn't even staged an exhibit since 2004.
The Lennon guitar and other items from the collections should be handed off to "bona fide charities actively educating the Illinois public in peaceful conflict resolution," Madigan's suit demanded.
A spokeswoman for Madigan told AOL News they don't know what's in the museum's full inventory, but Chicago rock radio station WXRT said that exhibits have included a manuscript from U2 front man Bono and assorted rock and roll memorabilia with anti-war messages from the Clash, the Talking Heads and other acts.
The Peace Museum's finances are nearly drained, board members have walked away from the organization and the storage space holding its collection "has suffered significant water and mold damage," the suit claimed.
Beatles fans gently wept to learn that a Lennon guitar could be in jeopardy.
"They should be required to give it back," said Mark Lapidos, founder of the Fest for Beatles Fans, which stages Beatles conventions around the country.
"It's part of his aura," Lapidos told AOL News. "It's part of history. It's important."
Lennon, with songs like "Imagine" from his solo career or "Revolution" when he was in the Beatles, is equated with peaceful causes. He and his wife Yoko Ono famously staged two protests against the Vietnam War in 1969 by staying in bed for a week first in Amsterdam on their honeymoon and later that year in Montreal.
But the museum effectively went out of business in 2004, according to the lawsuit, for allowing its registration with the state to lapse.
Former board members and staff from the museum did not return calls from AOL News for comment.
Before the Peace Museum ran into financial trouble, officials often rented a booth at the Chicago Fest for Beatles Fans to sell peace sign stickers and t-shirts, Lapidos said.
"They were nice people," he said. "They had their hearts in the right place."
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