Artist News Legal

Yoko Ono reaches new settlement deal with John Lennon’s former assistant

By | Published on Friday 15 January 2021

Yoko Ono

Yoko Ono has told a New York court that she has reached a settlement deal with Frederic Seaman, a former personal assistant of John Lennon who was accused of breaching a previous commitment to not publicly talk about his time working for the late Beatle.

Ono sued Seaman last year, reigniting a legal battle that goes back 40 years. Seaman worked for Lennon in the run-up to the musician’s death in 1980. He was then fired by Ono the following year after it emerged that he’d been taking items from Lennon’s home, including diaries, photographs, fan letters and unreleased recordings.

Seaman ultimately pled guilty to second-degree larceny and was ordered to return all the items he had taken. But then in the 1990s it emerged that he had not, in fact, given back all the items he’d removed from Lennon’s home. He also further annoyed Ono by publishing a book called ‘The Last Days Of John Lennon’ which, he later admitted, included “factually inaccurate” claims.

Ono first went formally legal in 1999, resulting in a settlement deal in 2003 in which Seaman agreed to finally return all the items he’d taken in the months after Lennon’s death, and to never talk about his time working for the musician again.

Then last September, as media started to run new features about Lennon ahead of what would have been his 80th birthday in October, Seaman gave an interview about his former employer.

In the new lawsuit subsequently filed by Ono, her legal reps wrote: “Despite his clear and unambiguous obligations [in the 2003 agreement], on 10 Sep 2020, Seaman sat for an interview from his apartment, flanked by Lennon memorabilia and wilfully, wantonly and contumaciously violated the clear and ambiguous terms of [the previous agreement]”.

Seaman also said in that interview that he planned to publish a revised and expanded version of ‘The Last Days Of John Lennon’. “As a direct consequence of Seaman’s actions, Mrs Lennon has suffered and will suffer irreparable harm”, Ono’s lawsuit added. The lawsuit accused Seaman of fraud, breach of contract and copyright infringement, and sought a new injunction restraining Seaman plus at least $150,000 in damages.

However, in a court filing this week, Ono told the court that she had reached a settlement deal with Seaman. He will formally acknowledge that he has violated the 2003 agreement, both via the specific interview that took place last September, and other interviews he has given. He will also pay Ono $5000 in damages for copyright infringement.

The court filing added: “Seaman also admits that he does not have any rights in or to any photographs he took of the Lennon family and acknowledges he and his estate are perpetually enjoined from speaking about John Lennon, Yoko Ono Lennon or Sean Lennon in any capacity whatsoever including but not limited to the publication by any means, including but not limited to publishing any book or articles or otherwise publicly disclosing such information”.