R&R Auctions told AXS.com March 6 it will be auctioning a 1977 photo of John Lennon, Yoko Ono and their son Sean this week that was given to actress Mae West and inscribed personally to the actress by Lennon. The photo is signed “To Mae West, with John Lennon, 78 ” and “Yoko Ono & Sean” above Lennon's head. Lennon also added doodles of the three of them.
The photo was taken at a Tokyo park during the family's trip to Japan by Nishi Saimaru, who, between 1976 and 1979 was the Lennon family's personal photographer and assistant between 1976 and 1979. It also has another significance, according to the letter of authenticity that accompanies the picture written by Saimaru which says the picture was a thank-you gift from Lennon for West's appearance on the cover of the Beatles' “Sgt. Pepper ” album. “Mae’s closest confidante, the late Dolly Dempsey told me that John Lennon had sent her the autographed picture inscribed to her in return for giving the Beatles the right to use her likeness on the cover of their ‘Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Band,’” the letter says. West initially balked at allowing the likeness to be used, reportedly asking, "What would I be doing in a lonely hearts club band?" She relented after the Beatles sent letters asking her to change her mind.
Also included in the auction is another autographed Lennon-Ono obtained during their 1969 Amsterdam Bed-In For Peace by two teenage female journalists who said they wanted to cover the event and spent hours waiting before they were allowed in. Both photos will be sold during RR Auction's Pop Culture sale that begins March 8 and end March 15. More details can be found online at www.rrauction.com.
Leon Wildes, John Lennon's immigration attorney during his fight in the '70s to keep from being deported from the U.S., wrote a book about the case that was published in 2016 called “John Lennon vs. The U.S.A.: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History” detailing how Lennon succeeded in remaining in the U.S.