On Wednesday, Beyonce and Jay-Z dropped jaws when they name-checked Meghan Markle during a speech at the BRIT Awards while standing in front of a painting of the Duchess of Sussex. Of course, the painting immediately got a ton of attention, and TMZ reached out to the painting’s artist, Tim O’Brien, only to learn that the painter didn’t see one cent, nor was he asked for permission for the use of his image.
Beyonce posted a photo on Instagram with her and Jay-Z standing in front of O’Brien’s painting of Markle, with a caption thanking the BRIT Awards for their Best International Group win and a tribute to the “Melanated Mona,” Markle. She wished the duchess joy and offered congratulations on her pregnancy.
The Carters also appeared in a video that recreates one of their music videos to receive their award, in lieu of being there in person. In it, Beyonce thanks the awards and then the pair turn and look at the Markle painting, which appears in the same place that the Mona Lisa hung during the Beyonce “Apes**t” video.
O’Brien said that he was honored – and a little shocked – to see his painting show up on the couple’s Instagram feed and on the BRIT Awards.
“I admire both of them as artists, so it’s nice to see my art where the Mona Lisa was in the video,” he told TMZ.
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Thank you to the Brits for the award for Best International Group. I won this award back in 2002 with my besties, Kelly and Michelle. How lucky am I to have been in a group with my other best friend, the GOAT Hova. ???????? In honor of Black History Month, we bow down to one of our Melanated Monas. Congrats on your pregnancy! We wish you so much joy.
“As an artist, like them, I make a living off selling the rights to my work. So, it would be been nice to profit someway, but that’s not what this is what is about,” he said.
O’Brien says that the image was created for an issue of the magazine the Key for the Kappa Kappa Gamma sorority that Markle belonged to in college. He added that the image that Beyonce and Jay-Z used had the type removed, which he says is an even stronger reason that he should have been contacted before they used the image.
“But I do love both of them, so it’s probably worth some of the publicity, but publicity doesn’t pay the bills,” he said.
The artist also says he is sure that neither of the power couple purchased a print from him of the image because he knows everyone who has purchased his art. Not only that, but a copy of the image costs just $75, so the Carters probably could have sprung for the cost.