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Monday, 14 May, 2001, 11:13 GMT 12:13 UK
Yoko threat over Lennon portrait
Yoko Ono
Yoko Ono: Gave 25,000 donation to the school
Yoko Ono has warned an artist that she must not use a painting of ex-Beatle John Lennon to raise money for the musician's old school.

Ono, who is Lennon's widow, asked her solicitors to warn painter Joanne Shaw that the rights to use Lennon's image were hers, Ono's.

If Yoko has the right to stop me from painting she stops my life so where do you draw the line?

Joanne Shaw
But Shaw, 26, has described Ono's reaction as "over the top" and has already completed another portrait of the former Beatle.

The original painting was due to be sold to raise funds for Dovedale County Infants School, Liverpool, which Lennon attended.

Shaw, from Castleford, West Yorkshire, painted two portraits of Lennon for the school after hearing it needed money for maintenance.

The school sent one to Ono as thanks for an earlier 25,000 donation - but Shaw then received the letter from Ono's solicitors telling her not to produce any more portraits.

"You should be aware that your deriving your drawing from somebody else's photograph would not be permissible in the law," it said.

"Because of other exclusive arrangements that Miss Ono has with others about using Mr Lennon's likeness in merchandising areas she would not be in a position to grant you the right to utilise your print for fund-raising purposes."

John Lennon and Yoko Ono
John and Yoko married in 1969
But Shaw has defied Ono and painted another black and white picture of Lennon, which will be unveiled at Clifton Park Museum, Rotherham, on 2 July.

Shaw, who has painted for the Prince of Wales and the Sultan of Brunei, described Ono's response as "totally wrong".

"An artist can paint whatever they want. It all started out as a generous gesture to his old school and it's provoked a bit of response from Yoko.

"I find it so sad that someone in her position feels threatened. I am not allowed to paint a picture of John.

"The only way they could object would be if I used the prints to promote a product. It just seems funny that she has gone over the top on it.

"If Yoko has the right to stop me from painting she stops my life so where do you draw the line?"


Miss Shaw's agent Alan Black said the paintings had been done from several photographs Miss Shaw had seen in magazines.

"There isn't an artist going that doesn't work from photographs. We are not breaking the law as we understand it and we are prepared to stand by that."

He said he expected to hear from Ono's lawyers on Monday to find out if they will take legal action.

Miss Shaw's website describes her work as "photo-realistic" and adds that "accuracy is a priority".

Her paintings have been bought by the Hard Rock Cafe chain, the Bel Air hotel in California and Warner Marketing International, who used her work to promote The Doors' greatest hits album last year.

Last July, Ono sued a Tokyo underground operator for selling train tickets bearing a portrait of Lennon.

See also:

28 Mar 99 | Entertainment
Yoko: Great artist or con artist?
08 Dec 00 | Entertainment
Living with Lennon's legacy
14 Jul 00 | Entertainment
Yoko sues over Lennon portrait
09 Oct 00 | Entertainment
'Happy Birthday' Lennon
14 Apr 99 | Entertainment
Yoko Ono sues former Lennon aide
20 Oct 00 | Entertainment
Yoko and Sir Paul get visual
30 Mar 01 | Showbiz
Yoko to receive honorary degree
03 Oct 00 | Americas
Yoko Ono: My fears
08 Dec 00 | Entertainment
The life of Lennon
23 Jun 99 | Entertainment
Drawing inspiration from Lennon
23 Mar 99 | Entertainment
Making art, not war
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