Legendary Guitars & Musical Treasures

Auction Details

  • Auction:
    December 2, 1PM

  • Preview:
    December 1, 1PM - 9PM
    December 2, 10AM - 1PM

  • Location:
    Bohemian National Hall
    321 East 73rd Street
    New York, NY

  • Online Bidding:
  • www.invaluable.com

  • Absentee Bidding:
    By e-mail, mail and telephone

  • e-Catalogue:
    View / Download (PDF)

Featured Lots

First Performance Used Gibson Les Paul

Jimi Hendrix's
1967 Electric Guild Starfire V

Paul McCartney
1953 Gold Gibson Les Paul

Jimi Hendrix's
1963 Fender Stratocaster

Love Symbol Guitar

David Bowie's
Owned and Played 1989 Gibson L4

Bruce Springsteen
1963 Fender Precision Bass

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
signed Fender Stratocaster

Johnny Winter
12-string Gibson Firebird

Jerry Garcia
Acoustic 1990 Alvarez-Yairi Guitar

Tom Petty's
Takamine EF-360 S

Steve Miller
Guild 12-string Guitar

The Auction

Following Guernsey’s recent record-setting auction of Jerry Garcia’s beloved guitar known as “Wolf” which generated nearly $4 million for the Southern Poverty Law Center, the auction house today announced a broad ranging, December 2nd sale of a wide variety of musical treasures.

Consistent with Guernsey’s auctions over the last several years, the upcoming event features many wonderful guitars, some noteworthy due to their rarity as fine instruments, others made famous by the legendary musicians who played them. Jimi Hendrix, Bruce Springsteen (the bass played by Bruce on his very first album), Jerry Garcia, Johnny Winter, Steve Miller - even Madonna (her first performance-used touring guitar) represent a sampling of rock musicians whose stage/recording-used guitars will be sold in this event. The guitars played by folk legend John Denver, Cuban icon Vicente Guyun, and chanteur Jacques Brel also figure prominently in the sale, as do many magnificent classical and parlor guitars from the 1800’s onward. This latter group contains rare Martins and Gibsons, while the range of exceptional instruments extends from highly desirable creations from the century-old workbenches of such masters as Antonio Cerrito and Fermin Barrios to a rare late 1950’s Stratocaster with “blue sparkle” finish.

One section of the auction contains a most unusual grouping of guitars that were signed and inscribed to various stars of the music world by the remarkable Les Paul. In his later years, Les - who altered the course of popular music - sent gifts of old guitars to other musicians he knew and admired. Les and his "favorite friend" Ron Lovely presented these unexpected gifts to the stars. He told Ron with a laugh: "Tell them it's my way of sending postcards!". Les would inscribe these instruments, often in a humorous fashion. These include guitars inscribed by Les Paul to Bob Dylan, Prince, Robert Plant, and Paul Simon.

Jazz buffs should thrill at the chance to bid on saxophones, handwritten music, and other artifacts from the Gerry Mulligan Collection, while items from the family of legendary Jazz pianist Thelonious Monk and unreleased tapes from live performances at San Francisco's iconic Keystone Korner will also be featured.

Rare it is that a Jimi Hendrix guitar comes to auction but this event not only includes Jimi’s sticker-covered Guild, played after the 1968 Miami Pop Festival, at the Wreck Bar in the Castaways Hotel, but also the most extensive collection known of Hendrix lifetime-issued vinyl records, unreleased studio tapes, and acetate recordings. And, should this not be enough, yet another Hendrix guitar is currently being reviewed for possible inclusion in this unprecedented auction.

Working as the sound engineer at the West Coast’s famed Hollywood Bowl in the 1960’s and 70’s, Charles Lewis professionally recorded live performances of many of the biggest names in the entertainment business. The Beatles, the Beach Boys, Aretha Franklin, as well as Joni Mitchell and Carole King, are just a few names in the extraordinary line-up of stars recorded by Mr. Lewis. Not long ago, Mr. Lewis’ family discovered a treasure trove of his original recordings that have not been seen nor heard in nearly half a century. These unreleased tapes are professional, unedited recordings of many of the most iconic musicians from the 1960’s as they performed at one of the most legendary performance venues.

Were the rare Charles Lewis tapes not enough to excite any music fan, there will also be a collection of original tapes including unreleased recordings of late 1960s performances by artists such as the Grateful Dead and Jefferson Airplane, performed live at the Boarding House in San Francisco. The Boarding House was a popular club where such greats as Patti Smith, Neil Young, and Bob Marley often appeared. From the same archive that is selling the Boarding House tapes comes original studio master reels from Elvis Presley and James Brown, including the soundtrack from Presley’s Blue Hawaii and Brown’s 1964 album Soul & Grits.

Guernsey’s, long known for producing innovative and exciting auctions, is particularly delighted to be involved in an event with so many important and unique items.

Auction Update: Previously Unannounced Items

For weeks, the music world has been buzzing over Guernsey’s December 2nd auction - being held live in New York City - and available around the world via the internet – featuring the most extraordinary guitars and unreleased audio tapes of iconic performers. The auction house just announced that in addition to the many treasures that have already been showcased, there are several new items that are simply beyond extraordinary. These include performance-used, truly unique, guitars from none other than David Bowie, Prince, Tom Petty, and Jimi Hendrix (it should be noted that the auction already includes great guitars from Hendrix and Petty, both of which are being sold with proceeds going to support worthy non-profit causes). Extremely rare audio master and performance tapes feature such legendary artists as Elvis Presley, James Brown, the Beach Boys, Aretha Franklin, Ella Fitzgerald, and the Beatles!

The Prince guitar that Guernsey’s is offering is a custom gold guitar in the shape of Prince’s “Love Symbol.” This is the symbol that the artist famously changed his name to in 1993. Both functional and a work of art, this guitar captures the essence of Prince’s wild and provocative performance style. Also included is the beautiful 1989 Gibson L4 Custom that David Bowie played while on tour and in recording sessions from the late ‘80s to early ‘90s, mainly while he was a member of the band Tin Machine. Tom Petty’s acoustic Takamine EF-360 S is also being offered, along with a letter from the artist himself, stating that this guitar has “a lovely sound.”

Finally, there is the incredible addition of a second Jimi Hendrix guitar to this auction. Hendrix played this 1963 Fender Stratocaster – one of his earliest owned Strats – mostly at Juggy Sound, a studio in New York City that Hendrix had a particular soft spot for. The guitar was given to him by the studio head and was in Jimi’s possession through the ‘60’s. The guitar boasts its original electronics, with changes Hendrix made himself to the guitar to make it playable, as he was left-handed. Sadly, none of these great musicians are with us today, however, these guitars are a reminder of their incredible musical legacies.

There are also a plethora of instruments played by other greats of the music world - Bruce Springsteen (the bass played by Bruce on his very first album), Jerry Garcia, Johnny Winter, John Denver, Steve Miller, and Madonna are all among those whose guitars are included in the sale.

For complete information about this unprecedented auction, and for information about how to participate in bidding, please go to guernseys.com, or to one of our two online bidding sites, www.liveauctioneers.com or www.invaluable.com. Please also feel free to call the Guernsey’s office at 212-794-2280. If you are interested in consigning an item to the auction house, please contact them via phone.

For additional information visit www.guernseys.com. For media inquiries or to request an interview, please contact Lori Rosen at 212.255.8910 or Lori@rosengrouppr.com


A sneak preview of the items being offered in this collection:

Online Bidding

Those who are interested in participating can view the full catalogue online, and leave advance absentee bids, as well as bid live as the sale is taking place at liveauctioneers.com and invaluable.com.


Interested bidders should also review the Terms & Conditions, as well as the Bidder Agreement form, and the Absentee Bid form.


Guernsey's welcomes inquiries from the media regarding both past and upcoming events. PDF copies of the press release and links to media coverage of our B.B. King Auction are available below:

Press Release (December 2)