The Latest High-Profile Beatles Auction Shows a Very Different Side of the Band

A 1966 collaborative painting will be sold at auction

The Beatles in 1966
The Beatles arrive at London Airport to fly out to USA. 11th August 1966.
Daily Mirror/Mirrorpix via Getty Images

In recent years, a number of items relates to the lives and work of The Beatles have been sold at auction — including the letter that formally brought the group to an end. In the fall of 2023, a number of objects that loomed large in the Fab Four’s careers — with an estimated value of millions of dollars — went on the market. We aren’t that far into the new year, and there’s already a new high-profile Beatles auction set to happen — though this one is more about the group’s visual side that anything else.

Writing at Smithsonian Magazine, Julia Binswanger has more details on the auction, which has its origin in a fateful day in 1966 when the group was holed up in their suite in the Tokyo Hilton. McCartney, Lennon, Harrison and Starr began work on a collaborative painting, in which each member was responsible for one of the canvas’s four corners. Titled Images of a Woman, the painting shows off a different side of the quartet’s collaborations.

Now, the painting is set to be auctioned off via Christie’s, and is estimated to sell for between $400,000 and $600,000. The first time the painting changed hands, notes the auction house, it was for a much smaller sum — which is to say no sum at all. The group instead gave the collaborative work to the head of the Beatles’ Japanese fan club.

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Intriguingly, Christie’s also mentions that this was likely not the only painting the band collaborated on during their time in Tokyo, though none of the others have surfaced — if they survived to the present day. Writing in The Atlantic in 2012 — the last time this painting was sold at auction — David Wolman wrote that this is “one of the few, if not the only, painting in the world that they made together, and allegedly the only one signed by them all.” Can a piece of musical history take the form of a work of visual art? In this case, it certainly can.

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