Paul McCartney acquires a painting by Magritte

Circa June 1968
Timeline More from year 1968
7 Cavendish Avenue, St John’s Wood, London, UK

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Around June 1968, Paul McCartney was at his home in Cavendish Avenue with Mary Hopkin, a newly signed artist by Apple, and Tony Bramwell. They filmed a sequence of Mary playing guitar in the garden, which was included in a film to promote Apple Record. The film was shown to executives at EMI and Capitol Records when Paul McCartney travelled to the USA on June 20-25, 1968 (another sequence with Paul and Mary was filmed at Abbey Road on June 11, 1968, during a recording session).

According to Paul, he received a painting by Belgian artist René Magritte from his friend Robert Fraser, an art dealer, on the same day. Paul explained that the painting was “Le Jeu De Mourre“, depicting a green apple overlaid with the text “Au Revoir,” which inspired the logo of Apple, the company recently launched by The Beatles. However, a picture of Paul’s home interiors from around April/May 1967 shows that he already owned the painting at that time.

It’s therefore uncertain when Paul acquired the painting, which was created by Magritte in 1966, and if he bought another Magritte in June 1968 or not. Paul had previously acquired some other paintings by Magritte via Robert Fraser in early 1966.

Robert Fraser was this gallery owner – the guy who got busted with The Stones. He’s a great guy, he died a few years ago, he was great. He was brilliant and I bought a couple of these Magritte paintings through Robert – dirt cheap. We didn’t think he was going to be famous one day. In fact I now think he’s the best surrealist. Certainly didn’t think he’d ever be that. He was just one that we all liked – the skies, the doves and the bowler hats. Robert’s greatest conceptual thing he ever did, it’s like a scene out of a movie for me, was, it was one of these long hot kind of summers and I had a big back garden in St John’s Wood and we were all playing in the back garden, sitting amongst the daisies, and he didn’t want to break in on our scene. So he arrived and when we got back in he’d gone, but he’d left a painting just as we came through the back door, just on the table. It was a Magritte painting with an apple which we used for the Apple thing. That’s where we got the Apple insignia, this big green apple. And written across the apple were the words ‘Au Revoir’, like a calling card.

Paul McCartney – From “The Paul McCartney World Tour” book – 1989

In my garden at Cavendish Avenue, which was a 100-year-old house I’d bought, Robert was a frequent visitor. One day he got hold of a Magritte he thought I’d love. Being Robert, he would just get it and bring it. I was out in the garden with some friends. I think I was filming Mary Hopkin with a film crew, just getting her to sing live in the garden, with bees and flies buzzing around, high summer. We were in the long grass, very beautiful, very country-like. We were out in the garden and Robert didn’t want to interrupt, so when we went back in the big door from the garden to the living room, there on the table he’d just propped up this little Magritte. It was of a green apple. That became the basis of the Apple logo. Across the painting Magritte had written in that beautiful handwriting of his ‘Au Revoir’. And Robert had split. I thought that was the coolest thing anyone’s ever done with me. When I saw it, I just thought: ‘Robert’. Nobody else could have done that. Of course we’d settle the bill later. He wouldn’t hit me with a bill.

Paul McCartney – From “Groovy Bob: The Life and Times of Robert Fraser” by Harriet Vyner, 1999

There’s a great story about that. I had this friend called Robert Fraser, who was a gallery owner in London. We used to hang out a lot. And I told him I really loved Magritte. We were discovering Magritte in the sixties, just through magazines and things. And we just loved his sense of humour. And when we heard that he was a very ordinary bloke who used to paint from nine to one o’clock, and with his bowler hat, it became even more intriguing. Robert used to look around for pictures for me, because he knew I liked him. It was so cheap then, it’s terrible to think how cheap they were. But anyway, we just loved him … One day he brought this painting to my house. We were out in the garden, it was a summer’s day. And he didn’t want to disturb us, I think we were filming or something. So he left this picture of Magritte. It was an apple – and he just left it on the dining room table and he went. It just had written across it “Au revoir”, on this beautiful green apple. And I tought that was like a great thing to do. He knew I’d love it and he knew I’d want it and I’d pay him later. […] So it was like wow! What a great conceptual thing to do, you know. And this big green apple, which I still have now, became the inspiration for the logo. And then we decided to cut it in half for the B-side!

Paul McCartney – Interview with Flemish Public Radio, 1993

Robert [Fraser – art dealer and friend] also brought me other interesting Magritte’s pictures over the years and one of them became the inspiration for the original Beatles Apple Records label: the big green apple was inspired by Magritte.

We were amongst the many people who have been hugely influenced by this great artist’s work.

Paul McCartney – From Paul McCartney | News | New Feature: Paintings On The Wall – René Magritte (1898 – 1967), March 2015

I had this really great mate, he was the owner of a gallery called Robert Fraser and he really knew his art, so I could get advice from him. And I enjoyed looking at those René Magritte, Belgian painter, and he knew his dealer. So Robert said to me “do you want to come to Paris and we’ll have dinner with this dealer, he’s invited us?” I said, “yeah right”. It was funny because Robert was gay and I told some of my friends I’m going to Paris with Robert. They went “are you sure”. I said “I’m quite secure about my sexuality”. Anyway… And the guy’s name was Alexander Iolas. And so, we have dinner and everything, it was above the gallery, so we go downstairs in these little stairs. And there were all those great paintings. An he’s like, you know, someone who loves his work. And I could now afford to buy a couple. Now I couldn’t, I mean you know, they are like, wow. But they were like three thousand pounds and now they’re worth a bit more but, yes, that kind of started my love of art. And in all of that, I saw this Apple and what happened one day, Robert knowing I loved this, I was out in the background in London doing a little music video with Mary Hopkin actually and I was busy and Robert knew I was busy. So I came back in from the garden and he’d left this little painting, little oil by Magritte, propped up on the thing and he had left, he’d just gone so and then one of the painting was a green apple and written across within Magritte’s writing was “au revoir”. So that is the coolest most conceptual thing anyone’s ever done. So yeah that’s where it came from. So people say “why was the Apple”, because you know there was an Apple before Apple… It was “a is for Apple”, we just like that it was near the beginning of the alphabet. So on any list, it would come early.

Paul McCartney – From Paul McCartney in Casual Conversation from LIPA, 2018

Paul came up with the idea of calling it Apple, which he got from René Magritte. I don’t know if he was a Belgian or Dutch artist… he drew a lot of green apples or painted a lot of green apples. I know Paul bought some of his paintings in 1966 or early 1967. I think that’s where Paul got the idea for the name from.

Neil Aspinall – From “Those Were The Days 2.0” by Stefan Granados


Magritte’s picture, which dates from 1966, late in the artist’s life, appears as number 1051 in Volume 3 of the catalogue raisonne of the artist’s work. The authors of that weighty and learned tome, assembled under the editorial supervision of David Sylvester, quote the somewhat unilluminating Larousse dictionary definition of Mora, or Mourre, as “a game in which one of the players rapidly displays a hand with some fingers raised, the others folded inwards, while his opponent calls out a number which, for him to win, has to correspond to that of the total of raised fingers”; and they go on to speculate that Magritte’s curious choice of title is probably a play on words, a pun on the phrase “Les jeunes amours” (“young love”), which the artist had already used for the title of an earlier picture showing three apples rather than one. They add that they “have not been able to examine the picture” and record its whereabouts simply as “Private Collection”.

René Magritte’s “Le Jeu De Mourre”

Last updated on May 11, 2024

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