The Only Painting Created by All Four Beatles Could Make $600,000 at Auction

The Fab Four co-created the work while on tour in Tokyo in 1966.

The Beatles, Images of a Woman (1966). Photo courtesy of Christie's.

The Beatles co-wrote some of the most enduring songs of our time, but as it happens, music is not all they jointly worked on. A painting that the Fab Four co-painted in the 1960s has re-emerged on the auction block, where it could fetch as many as six figures.

The untitled painting, commonly known as Images of a Woman (1966), is the only canvas that John Lennon, Paul McCartney, George Harrison, and Ringo Starr collaborated on and later signed. The acrylic and watercolor work will join Christie’s The Exceptional Sale on February 1, arriving with an estimate of $400,000–$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,” Christie’s specialist Casey Rogers told News Miami. “It’s memorabilia, it’s a work of art… It’s a wonderful piece of storytelling.” 

The artwork was made while the band was on tour in Tokyo, Japan between June 29 and July 3, 1966. When not performing five concerts and nipping out for sightseeing, the musicians spent most of their 100 hours in the city holed up in suite 1005 of Tokyo’s Hilton Hotel (authorities feared the members would be mobbed should they venture outside). 

The Beatles arriving at Tokyo International Airport at Haneda in Tokyo ahead of their tour. Photo: JIJI Press/AFP via Getty Images.

According to the auction house, while the group passed the time in their accommodations without pain, the gift of a set of art supplies from their tour promoter provided a useful distraction. The band arranged four chairs around a table on which sat a page of Japanese art paper; using the materials, they proceeded to draw and paint from each corner of the sheet towards its middle. 

After first giving the background a red wash, the foursome worked in vivid shades of watercolors and oils. Lennon opted for geometry and Harrison abstraction; McCartney took to organic forms and Starr cartoony contours. The painting was completed over two nights, recalled photographer Robert Whitaker, who documented the band’s time in Tokyo.  

“They’d stop [painting], go and do a concert, then it was ‘Let’s go back to the picture!’ he said. “I never saw them calmer or more contented than at this time.” 

The canvas was held down in the center by a table lamp, which once lifted, left a perfectly clean circle. Here, the Beatles signed their names next to the quadrant they’d painted.  

The completed work was given away to the Beatles Fan Club in Tokyo, then acquired by its then-president Tetsusaburo Shimoyama. In the 1980s, a Japanese journalist dubbed the untitled work Images of a Woman because the art in McCartney’s segment of the painting reminded him of female genitalia (true story). 

Following Shimoyama’s death in 1989, the painting was auctioned off to collector Takao Nishino, who had it boxed up under his bed for more than four decades. In 2012, the piece left Japanese soil for the first time when it hit the block at Weiss Auctions in New York. 

“I think [the painting] is really reflective of those 100 hours that [the Beatles] spent together… probably one of the last times to sit together, to reflect, to not have schedules that required them anywhere else but Budokan for their concerts,” Rogers said of the work. “[It was] just this great creative outlet for them.” 


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