Auction News

Beatles painting sale could realise $600,000


Beatles painting Images of a Woman, an abstract artwork by all four Beatles painted in Japan in 1966.
Images of a Woman, 1966, by The Beatles.

A painting by The Beatles will make $600,000 at its auction sale in New York in February if estimates are met.

The picture, Images of a Woman, is jointly credited to all four band members. John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr have all clearly signed it.

It will be sold on February 1. The estimate is $400,000 to $600,000.

“It’s such a rarity to have a work on paper outside of their music catalog that is [a] physical relic, this tangible object with contributions from all four of the Beatles,” Casey Rogers of the auctioneers told News Miami. “It’s memorabilia, it’s a work of art… It’s a wonderful piece of storytelling.”

The Beatles on stage at the Budo Kan in Tokyo in 1966.

It’s hard to price such a unique item.

A full set of four Beatles signatures can be worth 10s of thousands of pounds with the right context.

The illustrated manuscript of “The Singularge Experience of Miss Anne Duffield,” a Lennon piece from his book, A Spaniard in the Works, fetched $209,000 when it was auctioned in 2014.

This piece is well-known. Its provenance is fully documented. The circumstances of its painting are recorded in most Beatles biographies. It appears in photographs by lensman and Beatles associate Robert Whitaker.

It is the only joint visual artwork by the Beatles and a significant item in their legend. It could easily exceed the estimates if the right bidders are interested.

The picture was painted by the group in the summer of 1966. They were staying in the Presidential Suite of the Tokyo Hilton while in town for 5 shows at the legendary Budo Kan Hall.

The shows, on what was to prove their last world tour, were somewhat controversial. The hall was considered sacred territory by some Japanese nationalists. Long-haired, western rockers were not welcome guests in their eyes.

They were a shock to the band too. Accustomed to playing to audiences of hysterically screaming teenagers, the relatively subdued crowds in Tokyo allowed the band to hear themselves clearly for the first time for years. It was not a pleasant surprise. High-quality film of the concerts can be found online if you’d like to judge for yourself.

With reports of death threats to the band, the world’s most famous foursome spent almost their entire trip to Japan isolated in their luxurious suites.

George Harrison recalled in the Anthology series: “We were only allowed out of the room when it was time for the concert.

“To get our own back on the people who weren’t letting us out, we used to get them to bring tradesmen up to our suite. They would bring big boxes and trunks full of golden kimonos, jade, incense-holders and little carved objects, which we would buy: ‘We’ll show them!’ We wanted to go shopping.”

Among a stream of visitors was their local promoter, Tats Nagashima, who brought the art materials used to make Images Of A Woman.

It was painted on a table with a lamp in the centre of the paper that left the circle in which the band signed their names.

Mr Nagashima auctioned the picture for charity. It was bought by Tetsusaburo Shimoyama from The Beatles Japanese fan club. When Mr Shimoyama died collector Takao Nishino bought it and reportedly kept it under his bed. For a period the painting was listed on eBay but was last sold at auction for $155,250 in September 2012.

The painting is 21 ½ x 31 inches (54.6 x 78.8 cm) or 39 ¼ x 39 ¾ inches (99.7 x 101 cm) in its frame. It is being sold with a certificate of authenticity and a book by Robert Whitaker, Eight Days a Week: Inside The Beatles’ Final World Tour that includes pictures of The Beatles working on the picture.

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