Q Magazine

The Beatles' 1966 Japanese Painting to Hit the Auction Block

'Images of a Woman' is believed to be the only joint artwork created by all four Beatles.

qbeatles images of a woman
Source: © Christie's Images Ltd. 2023

'Images of a Woman'

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The Beatles' itinerary in 1966 was one of chaos, worldwide globetrotting and concerts that continued to be unheard through the screaming adulation. However, in Room 1005 in the Presidential Suite at Tokyo's Hilton Hotel, a few precious hours spent between June 30 and July 3 brought forth one of the only known public pieces of art conceived by all four members.

Now the painting will be going up for auction courtesy of Christie's, with bidding set to open on Feb. 1.

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qthe beatles images of a woman
Source: © Robert Whitaker

John Lennon and Paul McCartney at the Tokyo Hilton, July 1966.

After arriving in the early morning hours at Haneda Airport, the group and their entourage were whisked in limos under tight security to the Tokyo Hilton Hotel where they would spend the next 100 hours in the opulent Presidential Suite. The Japanese authorities were fanatical in their scheduling, due to the concerns about the fan adulation that followed the Beatles everywhere they went. With Japanese national pride at stake lest one of the group end up with bodily damage, no expense was spared in bringing in art supplies, food and drink to keep them entertained.

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While there were two unauthorized excursions — Paul McCartney and Mal Evans managed an early morning trek to the Imperial Palace, while John Lennon and Neil Aspinall ventured for a quick walk outside — most of the time was spent in creative mode. The paper and paints were provided by the Japanese promoter Tats Nagashima, and as the four sat around a low table, they proceeded over the next three days (in between their five concerts at Nippon Budokan Hall) to sketch, draw and paint, using watercolors and acrylics as the acetate to Revolver played in the background.

The desk lamp in the center of the paper served as the signature area when completed and the 30" x 40" mural was purchased by the Beatles fan club president Tetsusaburo Shimoyama.

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q beatles tokyo japan poster
Source: © Sotheby's

The Beatles 1966 concert poster for the Nippon Budokan Hall.

In 1989 the painting was purchased by record store owner Takao Nishino (who kept it under his bed) before putting it up for sale through Philip Weiss Auctions, where it was sold in September of 2012 for $155,250.

Christie's Auction House is now offering the painting, framed with a certificate of authenticity and a hardcover copy of photographer Robert Whitaker's 2008 book Eight Days a Week: Inside The Beatles' Final World Tour, which includes images of the time spent in Tokyo. The expected bidding range is between $400,000 – $600,000, and will begin on Feb. 1, 2024.


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