Painter Jonathan Gent has created a piece titled The Beatles in America, and despite his subject being the world’s most iconic band, not everyone is a fan of the work. The controversial painting was defaced while hanging on display in the Museum of Liverpool, reports local news outlet Click Liverpool.

Though the painting has a seemingly innocent title, one look at explains why it is (or rather, was) shocking: Gent portrays four sets of penises, each one attributed to John, Paul, George and Ringo, respectively. The British artist crafted the genitalia out of thick oil paint and placed one on the white canvas’ four corners.

jonathan gent Art Hooligans Deface The Beatles Penises

(Clockwise from top: George, John, Ringo, Paul. Photo courtesy of Liverpool Love)

A group of visitors reportedly defaced the painting by pressing the still-soft oil paint into the canvas, smudging it to a degree that may not be repairable. It has since been removed from the Museum of Liverpool.

A spokesperson for the museum released a statement regarding the damage: “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.”

The Beatles In America has been hanging in the Museum of Liverpool for just a few weeks, showing as part of the Liverpool Love charity exhibition that opened on September 25nd.

Gent’s inspiration for the work stems from the idea of The Beatles as highly public figures. “They are such a global thing – this untouchable thing and that is what interests me most about them,” he explained. “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.”

No comment from Paul McCartney or Ringo Starr regarding the accuracy of Gent’s portrayal.

– Jillian Mapes, CBS Local


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