Court Rules In Yoko Ono's Favor
Yoko Ono reached a settlement today (Sept. 27) with a former John Lennon aide over his use of hundreds of private family photos, ending a dispute that had stretched across two decades. As part of theYoko Ono reached a settlement today (Sept. 27) with a former John Lennon aide over his use of hundreds of private family photos, ending a dispute that had stretched across two decades. As part of the settlement, former assistant Frederick Seaman issued a public apology to Ono, the late Beatle and their son Sean, lawyers for both sides announced.
"I offer no excuses for my conduct and ask only that you can find it in your heart to forgive me," Seaman said in a statement read in court by Ono's attorney.
Ono had sued over the rights to 374 photos Seaman took of Lennon's family, many in the months before he was shot to death by a deranged fan, and closing arguments in the trial had been expected today. The settlement ended the trial and requires Seaman to surrender all rights to the photos. Seaman must also return any Lennon-related items still in his possession within 10 days. He admitted he had exploited the Lennon legacy for personal profit.
"After more than 20 years, it's time to ask for forgiveness for my actions," Seaman said. "I now realize how much pain and embarrassment I have caused."
In her lawsuit, Ono alleged that Seaman violated the agreement by publishing a memoir titled "The Last Days of John Lennon: A Personal Memoir." She also claimed he profited by stealing Lennon mementos and selling them to collectors.
The suit demanded that Seaman surrender the rights to 374 photos he took of the Lennon family, turn over about $75,000 from the sale of the rock icon's papers and pay unspecified damages.
Seaman testified that he took the disputed photos on his own time and with his own camera, making him the rightful owner. However, his defense received a devastating blow yesterday when the judge ruled there was overwhelming evidence that a confidentiality agreement signed by Seaman when he was hired in 1979 was valid and binding.
In the final day of testimony, Ono laid claim to a touching family photo at the center of the dispute. The photo of Lennon with their son, Sean, at a Bermuda beach in 1980, showed "that John was a person," Ono told jurors. "He was not just an artist, but a family man and a dad."
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