Saturday, September 28, 2002
New York Yoko Ono and a former assistant to John Lennon reached a settlement Friday regarding his use of nearly 400 private family photos, ending a bitter dispute that stretched across two decades.
As part of the agreement, former aide Frederic Seaman issued a public apology to Ono, the late Beatle and their son, Sean.
"I offer no excuses for my conduct and ask only that you can find it in your heart to forgive," Seaman said in a statement read in court by Ono's attorney. "I now realize how much pain and embarrassment I have caused."
Ono had sued over the rights to 374 photos Seaman took of Lennon's family, including many taken in the months before Lennon was shot to death in New York by a deranged fan in 1980.
The settlement requires Seaman to surrender all rights to the photos and return any Lennon-related items still in his possession. Seaman, 49, admitted he had exploited the Lennon legacy for personal profit.
"I'm very happy about the result," Ono told reporters. "I just wanted justice, and justice was done."
Seaman had signed a confidentiality agreement when he was hired by Lennon in 1979.
In her lawsuit, Ono said the aide violated the agreement by publishing a memoir titled "The Last Days of John Lennon: A Personal Memoir."
In the final day of testimony, the 69-year-old Ono laid claim to a family photo at the center of the dispute.
The photo of Lennon with their son 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," she said.
Seaman said he took the disputed photos on his own time and with his own camera, making him the rightful owner. However, a judge ruled that the confidentiality agreement appeared to be binding.
In 1983, Seaman pleaded guilty to stealing Lennon's diaries and was sentenced to five years' probation and ordered to return the property.