The Atlantic has reported that perhaps the only painting done and signed by all four members of the Beatles is now up for sale after being stored under a bed in Japan for the past 23 years. It seems that while the Beatles were on tour in 1966 in Tokyo during the height of Beatlemania, being fearful of the ravenous Japanese crowds the Fab Four holed up in their Tokyo Hilton bunker while not playing. To pass the time their band manager Brian Epstein bought them a canvas and some paint supplies to kill the time. With a lamp placed squarely in the middle of the painting, John, Paul, George, and Ringo each went to work on one of the four corners. When they finished, they signed the empty space in the middle where the lamp stood and gave the painting to Tetsusaburo Shimoyama, the president of the Beatles fan club in Japan. After his death, his widow auctioned off the painting in 1989 where it was purchased by Takao Nishino. According to the Atlantic,
Takao Nishino was only 16 when the Beatles performed at Budakon. He wanted to go, but he was a student in Osaka at the time and he didn’t have the money…
Nishino went on to become the owner of a thriving record-store business, and in 1989 he paid about $280,000 (roughly $500,000 today) for “Images of a Woman.” It was a large sum, but Nishino says it wasn’t a worrisome outlay—not enough to bother telling his wife, anyway. “I had a lot of money,” he says, laughing. “It was the bubble.”
Besides, the painting was worth it: “I’d never seen anything like it, especially all those psychedelic colors.” He believes it reveals an uncanny unity: a cohesive image composed by four individuals. “In that sense,” he says, “I suppose it beats ‘A Day in the Life’ as a truly collaborative work.” His favorite part? “Ringo’s corner is just beautiful. George’s is weird. I can’t really understand it.”
For three years, “Images of a Woman” hung on the wall in Nishino’s living room. But after acquiring a number of large Warhol lithographs, there just wasn’t enough wall space for everything. “When I bought it, I had also noticed that it was not well kept,” Nishino says. “Over the long term, the heat and humidity of Japan’s summer was going to be detrimental, so I bought this $5,000 humidity-controlled frame.” Noticing that the family dog, Taro, often escaped the heat by lying under the bed, he figured that would be a good place to store the boxed-up painting.
Nishino has now decided to part with the rare painting and is selling it through Weiss Auctions in an online auction that will end in a week. As I write lot #1599 is currently being offered at a significant discount to the $80-120k estimate which in turn is about a fifth of what Nishino originally paid for the work. The current tally of 10 bids is resting at $8250. This is certain to increase over the upcoming week, however only time will tell how much.