John Lennon asked his fans to “imagine no possessions,” but his widow appears to be claiming exclusive ownership of the ex-Beatle’s very image.
Yoko Ono’s lawyers recently sent a letter to British artist Joanne Shaw demanding that she not sell prints of a photo-realist painting she’s created of Lennon, according to Alan Black, the artist’s business manager.
“They told us no one can sell a picture of John Lennon without Yoko Ono’s permission,” Black said. “It’s OK to draw a picture of John Lennon, but don’t try to sell it.”
A lawyer and a spokesperson for Ono did not return calls for comment.
The letter from Ono’s lawyer came after Shaw donated prints of her Lennon painting to Dovedale County Infant School, which Lennon attended as a child, Black said.
Shaw, who specializes in photo-realist portrait paintings of rock stars, actors, and British royalty, had intended for Dovedale to auction off the prints in order to raise money for the school.
That auction has been called off, though Shaw has created a second Lennon painting and intends to display both pieces at an exhibit of her work this summer in the U.K., according to Black. “If they want to stop us, they will have to physically restrain us from bringing the painting into the building,” he said.