Titled The Beatles In America, the painting was created by artist Jonathan Gent, who donated it to Liverpool Love, an exhibition of artworks to be auctioned for children’s charity Claire House. Gent said of his artwork:
It’s as intimate a piece as you can get about The Beatles. What was really what I was after because they are such a global thing – this untouchable thing and that is what interests me most about them. So this idea of suddenly having their penises on a canvas it was, I guess, about closeness, getting close to this idol in some way.
The penises, rendered in still-soft oil paint and labelled for each band member, have been pressed and smudged in an attack carried out by unknown visitors to the exhibition. The artwork has been removed from display and specialists are assessing the damage. It is not known whether it will be auctioned as planned on October 17.
A spokesperson for the museum says:
“The damage is all the more regrettable because along with other works in the exhibition the painting is due to be auctioned to raise funds for children’s charity Claire House. The decision as to whether the work will be displayed again, and included in the auction, is now dependent on what can be done to return the work to its original condition.