Auction of the Week: A 1966 Painting Created by The Beatles Sells for $1.7 Million
Discover the fascinating story of the striking artwork, which smashed its pre-sale estimate almost threefold
A painting created by the four members of The Beatles while on tour in Japan in 1966 has sold at auction for $1.7 million, nearly tripling its high estimate of $600,000. The painting, titled Images of a Woman, was part of The Exceptional Sale at Christie’s on February 1.
Bandmates John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Ringo Star, and George Harrison created the piece using a mix of acrylic and watercolor when they were confined in the Presidential Suite of the Hilton Hotel in Tokyo for 100 hours between June 29 to July 3, 1966. They reportedly worked on it between their concerts, and the photographer Robert Whitaker—who documented the process—would later say “I never saw them calmer or more contented than at this time.”
Fans and visitors had been stopping by the hotel room, some bringing gifts, including a selection of art materials that the musicians would use for this painting. Equipped with the best Japanese art paper, watercolors, oil paints, and brushes, the four set about to create what would become the only known painting made and signed by each of them. “That’s one of the reasons this painting is so special, because they didn’t have this kind of time together again, stuck in a hotel room with nothing to do,” said Whitaker.
Without a plan in mind, they let the image evolve naturally over the course of two days, sitting around a table, each of them taking a section and working in their corner until they reached the middle. Totally abstract, the piece is a mix of vibrant blobs, circles, and squares. A table lamp was used to keep the paper in place, leaving a blank circle where the musicians would sign their name. “They never discussed what they were painting,” Whitaker would recall. ‘It evolved naturally.”
“It’s been a thrill to witness another magnificent performance by The Beatles,” says Casey Rogers, Co-Head of the Exceptional Sale. “I am proud of the way we told the story of this one-of-a-kind object that is both a work of art and an intimate piece of memorabilia signed in order by John, Paul, George, and Ringo.”