Paul Goresh, who famously snapped the only photo of John Lennon with his killer — one of the last pictures of John — has died. He was 58.
Goresh, from North Arlington, N.J., had been sick for some time, his cousin Rosanne Taylor wrote on a John Lennon Facebook fan page that he maintained. She confirmed his death to the Daily News on the phone Tuesday. Goresh died Jan. 9, she said.
“It is with much sadness and a heavy heart that I need to let you know of Paul’s passing. Paul had been sick for awhile . . . We spoke every few days and he was touched by the outpouring of love and good wishes that were sent to him,” she wrote.
“Every one of you touched his life in a unique and special way, and he wanted me to let you know that that meant the world to him,” she added. Taylor said Goresh had requested that no service be held for his death and the family is honoring his wishes. “Everyone knows his love of The Beatles and especially John. I hope they are together and happy now,” she wrote.
Goresh was forever haunted by the photo he took on Dec. 8, 1980 outside the Dakota apartment building at Central Park West and 72nd St. on the Upper West Side.
An amateur photographer, Goresh, then 21, was outside waiting for John — who lived there with Yoko Ono and their 5-year-old son Sean — to exit. Alongside him was a pudgy young man named M.D.Chapman, who said he was also a major Lennon fan. When John came out, Goresh got his shot — a tight focus on the ex-Beatle signing the “Double Fantasy” album that Chapman had been carrying. Chapman, then 25, hangs in the background, slightly out of focus but in the shot. Five hours later, John would be dead — fatally shot by the eager fan who so desperately wanted his album signed. When Goresh learned what happened, he realized he likely had an undeveloped picture of Lennon’s killer in his camera.He tried to give it to police, but after the third time they hung up on him, he realized they weren’t interested.
In a 2015 interview with NJ.com, Goresh credited a sergeant in North Arlington for urging him to get in touch with the New York newspapers. The sergeant called the Daily News for Goresh, and the newspaper sent out a limo for him and his undeveloped film, according to NJ.com.
The News paid $10,000 for the picture of John with his killer — the only one in existence, and one of the last photos of the rock star alive. John’s widow would later ask for 19 other images of her husband on Goresh’s film, which were used in a documentary about his life.
Goresh told NJ.com he has always regretted not realizing something was off about Chapman, who is serving a life sentence at Wende Correctional Facility in upstate Alden and is scheduled for his 10th parole hearing this August.
“Nobody picked up any sign of (Chapman) being a danger,” he said. “He looked like the kid that got picked on in the school playground. He looks like if you blew on him he would have fallen over. If you cracked him in the jaw he would get knocked out. There was nothing to the guy.” Goresh kept the Minolta XG1 he used to take his famous picture. He told NJ.com that he’d known John casually — mostly by showing up to take pictures of the ex-Beatle outside his Manhattan home. “But John Lennon was as decent a person as I’ve ever met,” Goresh told the online site. “He treated me wonderful. He never bothered anybody and he wanted to be left alone. He was just very down to earth and he liked regular people more than the beautiful people.”