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Portrait of John Lennon by ex-Beatle Stuart Sutcliffe up for auction

The watercolour painting on paper is thought to be Sutcliffe’s only portrait of Lennon, whom he first met when they were students.
The watercolour painting on paper is thought to be Sutcliffe’s only portrait of Lennon, whom he first met when they were students. The watercolour painting on paper is thought to be Sutcliffe’s only portrait of Lennon, whom he first met when they were students.

A portrait of John Lennon by his close friend and former Beatles bandmate Stuart Sutcliffe has gone on sale.

Sutcliffe was the group’s original bass guitarist, before he quit in July 1961 to focus on his art career.

The watercolour painting on paper is thought to be Sutcliffe’s only portrait of Lennon, whom he first met when they were students at Liverpool College of Art.

They shared a flat in Gambier Terrace, Liverpool, and formed a deep friendship.

Beatles historian Mark Lewisohn said: “They inspired each other and they laughed, drank, painted and read together.”

Astrid Kirchherr portrai
Astrid Kirchherr portrai Portrait of photographer Astrid Kirchherr by ex-Beatles guitarist Stuart Sutcliffe (Tracks Auction/PA)

Sutcliffe went on to play at the Beatles’ residencies in Hamburg, West Germany, where he met photographer Astrid Kirchherr, who later became his fiancee.

During their Hamburg gigs the band were often guests at the Kirchherr family home in the city.

Sutcliffe studied at the Hamburg College of Art after his Beatles stint ended, and from December 1961 he lived in a room in the Kirchherrs’ attic and set up a studio where he could paint undisturbed.

Sutcliffe died from a brain haemorrhage at the age of 21 on April 10 1962.

The painting has been offered for auction by Ulf Kruger, the business manager of Kirchherr, who died in 2020.

It is expected to fetch between £10,000 and £20,000 in the online sale held by Chorley-based Tracks Auctions.

A portrait painting of Kirchherr by Sutcliffe is expected to sell for a similar amount.

Details of the sale can be found at www.tracksauctions.com.