Monday, October 17, 2022

The mystery of the tablecloth has been solved!

 In 2016, I wrote about the tablecloth The Beatles doodled on while backstage in San Francisco in 1966.  You can read that story here.  

Quick recap:  The caterers, Simpson's Catering, brought The Beatles and their crew their food while they were backstage before the San Francisco show and also supplied the tablecloth for the table.   The Beatles used the colorful Japanese pen gifted to them by fans to draw doodles on the tablecloth after the meal.   Joan Baez was also there, and she drew on the tablecloth.   Afterward, Simpson's Catering took their tablecloth back with them, now adorned by Beatle art and autographs.  It was put on display in the shop's front window, and many fans stopped by to see it and take photos of it.   Then six days after the concert, someone broke the large window and took the tablecloth.    

That is all we knew about this piece of Beatles artwork.   It has been missing since 1966.   Although I do have to say that someone in the comments section of the article from 2016 someone came forward and said that the guy who originally stole the tablecloth in 1966 gave it to his uncle, who had no idea it was stolen until the 1980s.    Whoever had the tablecloth gave it back to the son of the caterer in 2020, and now he is selling the tablecloth through Bonhams auctions.  

You can bid on the famous tablecloth here.    It only has one day left!

Thanks to this auction, we can see the artwork up close. 

This is the biggest section that is made by a Beatle.   John Lennon drew all of the yellow areas.  Paul signed his name in bubble letters and put an arrow.  

These drawings were drawn by Joan.   Who do you think she was doodling?

George and Ringo were seen drawing at the table.  But when I looked closer, I realized that they had doodled on paper and not actually on the tablecloth.   What a shame!   I am sure those scraps of paper are long gone.   The caterer asked George and Ringo to autograph the tablecloth. 

This photograph by Marilyn Doerflers really shows some of the art -- notice John's yellow drawing especially?

I am glad that this mystery has been solved and that the tablecloth has survived all these years.  I find it a bit disappointing that there isn't more artwork on it (such as the one they did in Japan the same year), but original John Lennon art is always awesome. 


  1. That is an amazing piece of Beatles memorabilia history! I'm delighted it was returned to the original owner's family. Excellent story. Now to head to Bonhams and bid . . . .