Yoko Ono might be one of the most famous—or infamous—women in modern history. The Japanese artist was married to John Lennon from 1969 to 1980 and their 11-year marriage was full of gossip, controversy, and speculation. She was often blamed for “breaking up The Beatles.” Ono and the Beatles musician share a son, Sean, who was just five years old at the time of his father’s death.
Since Lennon died on December 8, 1980, Ono seemed to have quietly disappeared into the shadows, leaving many with the question—what happened to Yoko Ono?
Yoko Ono’s Life After John Lennon’s Death
“Art is like breathing for me. If I don’t do it, I start to choke,” Ono once said. The widower was an artist and musician before she lost her husband to the hands of crazed fan Mark David Chapman. After Lennon died, Ono has continued to make art, displaying her creations in museums and galleries around the world.
One of her most famous installations is Ono’s “Wish Tree” series, which started in 1981. To this day, visitors can write their hopes and dreams on a piece of paper and tie them to a branch—a beautiful display of community and humanity.
Her most recent artwork is a participatory installation, Add Color (Refugee Boat), which she contributed to the Lower Manhattan’s River to River Festival in 2019. The work engages with the history of immigrants in the United States and emphasizes the value of solidarity.
Ono is also known for her political activism, advocacy, and community work, receiving the ASCAP Harry Chapin Humanitarian Award, Digital Genius Award, and the NME Inspiration Award.
“Art to me is a way of showing people how you can think,” said the artist. “Some people think of art as like beautiful wallpaper that you can sell, but I have always thought that it is to do with activism,” Ono told The Guardian. She has made it a point in life to stand up and speak loudly about issues such as world peace, environment, gun control, feminism, and same-sex marriage.
Yoko Ono’s Health Now
In 2020, the New York Post reported that Ono is “slowing down” and has been in a wheelchair since 2017.
When receiving the Centennial Song Award during the 2017 National Music Publishers’ Association ceremony, Ono announced that she learned a lot and was thankful to have gone through her illness—however, it remains unclear what that illness is or was. Some fans speculated that she had a stroke but Sean sent out a since-deleted tweet saying, “Only stroke @yokoono had was a Stroke of Genius! … She’s really fine.”
“She has definitely slowed down, like anyone at that age,” Elliot Mintz, a family friend, told the New York Post. But it’s clear that she’s made her son a staple in her life. “Sean is her best friend,” Mintz added. “They have dinner two or three times a week.”
What Is Yoko Ono Doing Now
Ono is rapidly approaching the age of 90, and she’s reportedly still living in the same apartment building, The Dakota, where she lived with Lennon. The artist/musician has reportedly decided to withdraw from public life and hasn’t been seen in the public eye for some time, except for the very rare occasion when she leaves her New York home in her wheelchair.
According to the New York Post, Ono had approximately $700 million in assets as of 2020. However, she’s been shedding them since 2017, selling multiple properties that she owned for decades. “Although Ono still owns more than 600 acres near the town of Franklin, NY, locals say it’s been ages since they saw her in the area where she used to vacation with Sean and groups of friends,” the outlet reported.
For the past few years, it’s clear that Ono wants to keep her very successful life a bit more under wraps. With ailing health and an extensive portfolio of assets to manage, it’s clear that she’s relying on her next of kin as she transitions out of this earthly realm.
If one thing is certain, it’s that Ono has left her mark on this life—touching people across the planet. Whether it was being the wife of a legend, making contemporary and thought-provoking art and music, or standing up for what’s right—Yoko Ono is a staple of contemporary culture. There’s no doubt that when she leaves this world, she will be leaving a long-lasting mark. We will forever be grateful for her work and contribution to this world.