New Order speak out against Ian Curtis letters auction

5 March 2019, 18:31 | Updated: 5 March 2019, 18:33

Ian Curtis of Joy Division onstage in Rotterdam, January 1980
Ian Curtis of Joy Division onstage in Rotterdam, January 1980. Picture: Rob Verhorst/Redferns/Getty Images

Notes from the late Joy Division singer to his girlfriend were withdrawn from an auction of Peter Hook’s memorabilia last weekend.

Former Joy Division members Bernard Sumner and Stephen Morris have claimed that they were “very disappointed” with their ex-bandmate Peter Hook, when the bassist announced he was selling letters to the late singer Ian Curtis.

The documents were part of an auction of Joy Division memorabilia that included items that belonged to Hook from his career with the Mancunian post-punk band. However, the letters were withdrawn from sale before the auction took place on Saturday 2 March.

In a statement, Sumner and Morris said: “It was a relief to see that Peter chose to withdraw them from the sale, prior to Saturday’s auction.”

Curtis took his own life aged 23 in May 1980 and the letters were originally written to his girlfriend Annik Honoré - a relationship that took place while the singer was still married to his wife Deborah. Some of the letters are dated May 1980, a few days before Curtis's suicide.

Peter Hook in 2013
Peter Hook in 2013. Picture: Scott Campbell/Getty Images

In a message posted to NewOrder.com, a spokesman for the former guitarist and drummer said: “Both Bernard and Steve were very disappointed that Peter Hook had decided to sell copies of the letters between Ian and Annik in his ‘signature collection’ auction on Saturday.

“They considered them to be very private and personal correspondence. We had also been contacted by many people, some closely connected, who also expressed their unhappiness with this proposed sale.”

In the desciption of the letters, Hook revealed that the letters were forwarded to him by Annik during the making of Grant Gee’s Joy Division documentary in 2007.

Hook said: “I asked her what I should do with them? She said, ‘Do anything you like Hooky!’”

Ian Curtis and Peter Hook of Joy Division onstage in London, October 1980
Ian Curtis and Peter Hook of Joy Division onstage in London, October 1980. Picture: Chris Mills/Redferns/Getty Images

He admitted: “There is definitely a divide caused by these letters, with all men saying sell them, let the world see etc etc., and most women saying that they shouldn't be sold, that they are too personal and should be destroyed. I have never read them. What side of the fence are you?"

Sumner and Morris, who went on to form New Order with Hook following the death of their singer went on: “Although previously Annik had given permission for extracts to be published we hope that the entirety of the letters will remain as they were intended to be, private.”

“We noted that the money from the proposed sale was to be donated to The Christie hospital [in Manchester], so Bernard and Steve have personally made a donation of £1,500 to The Christie.”

Other items that sold at the auction on Saturday included an original Joy Division flight case, which went for a staggering £21,000 and a copy of FAC-1 the very first Factory Records gig poster, which sold for £9,000.

The relationship between Hook and the other members of New Order has not been smooth over the years. The band reunited in 2011 without the bassist, which caused some friction between the two parties, but six years later they announced that they had reached “a full and final settlement… in the long running disputes with their former bassist Peter Hook”.