Over half a century after their disbandment, The Beatles continues to have devoted fans around the world. A painting made by all four members—John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr—recently sold for $1.7 million, surpassing its pre-sale estimate of $400,000–$600,000. The artwork was part of Christie’s “Exceptional Sale,” which took place in New York City.
The painting, created in 1966, is titled Images of a Woman. The band was visiting Japan to perform five shows at Tokyo's Nippon Budokan arena. However, due to the commotion they caused wherever they went, The Beatles were mostly confined to the the presidential suite at the Tokyo Hilton when they weren't on stage. Having received some art supplies as gifts from local fans, the four musicians decided to spend some time painting.
Rather than working on separate pieces, the band shared a single canvas. They anchored the paper under a table lamp, and were each assigned a corner, eventually meeting in the middle. Each one used a different take on abstract styles, mixing color and shapes to convey their worldview. Once done, they all signed the center of the piece, where the lamp had been sitting.
The process was documented by tour photographer Robert Whitaker. “They'd stop [painting], go and do a concert, then it was, ‘Let's go back to the picture!' ” Whitaker later recalled. “I never saw them calmer or more contented than at this time.” The painting was then owned by Tetsusaburo Shimoyama, a prominent figure in the Japanese entertainment sector. It would later change hands several times before being sold at Christie’s by Tracks Ltd UK, one of the lead traders of rare Beatles memorabilia.
The identity of the new owner has not been disclosed, but they surely got away with a piece of history. “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,” said Christie’s specialist Casey Rogers. “It’s memorabilia, it’s a work of art, it appeals to probably a much larger cross-section of collectors…It’s a wonderful piece of storytelling.”
A painting made by all four members of The Beatles—John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr—recently sold for $1.7 million, surpassing its pre-sale estimate of $400,000–$600,000.