John Lennon’s ‘Lost’ Guitar Sells for $2.4 Million
An acoustic guitar once owned by rock & roll icon John Lennon has been missing for over five decades. Discovered just last year, it recently sold for $2.4 million at the “Icons and Idols Rock ‘n’ Roll Auction” at Julien’s Auctions in Los Angeles. “Honestly, when I heard that Lennon’s guitar had turned up last year, I thought it was too good to be true” Darren Julien, owner of Julien’s Auctions tells Boxes. “we always get people who contact us about items and 90% of the time they’re not authentic but the wood grain of the guitar matched, the serial number matched and even the markings from John Lennon matched so we knew then that it was 100% Lennon’s ‘lost’ guitar.”
The 1962 Gibson J-160E was originally flown from the United States to England and given to both Lennon and his band mate George Harrison right after it was manufactured in 1962. Lennon used the guitar for a little over a year while recording several of the Beatles earliest hits including: “She Loves You,” “All My Loving,” ”Love Me Do” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand.” In December of 1963, the guitar went missing after the Beatles performed a Christmas concert. “When it comes to John Lennon, we knew going into the auction that there’s no other guitar that will ever be this important and we certainly saw that when the winning bid was announced.” said Julien.
So what exactly happened to the guitar? John McCaw of San Diego bought it back in 1963 for $275 completely unaware that it belonged to Lennon. Last year, some 51 years later, McCaw was reading a magazine article written about George Harrison which referenced the missing guitar and showed a picture of a guitar that looked exactly like the one that he bought many years ago. With the help of a friend, McCaw immediately contacted Andy Babiuk, the world authority on equipment used by the Beatles and author of “Beatles Gear-All the Fab Four’s Instruments From Stage to Studio” and Babiuk indeed confirmed to Julien’s Auctions that it was the original Lennon owned guitar. “Wood grain is like a finger print, no two are the same and it is without a doubt a match. It’s one of the most historically important guitars ever to come up for auction.” said Babiuk.
Nearly a year after receiving the guitar Darren Julien, who is no stranger to auctioning off historic and authentic items, made John Lennon’s guitar available at their most recent auction and the final moments of bidding were like nothing he’d ever experienced before. “I was on the phone with the underbidder and Martin Nolan, Executive Director at Julien's was on the phone with the winning bidder and everyone in the room could feel the adrenaline and the excitement.” continued Julien. “Finally when the guitar was sold, it shut down the whole auction house for twenty minutes. People couldn’t stop cheering and the press was there to capture it all.”
Prior to Lennon’s guitar going for $2.4 million, Julien says the most an authentic guitar had ever gone for at auction was Bob Dylan’s guitar which sold at Christie’s for $960,000. “We knew our guitar would go for $1 million but once it went over $2 million it was completely beyond what we expected.” said Darren. “It reminds me of years ago when we had the privilege of hosting Michael Jackson’s Neverland Auction. Like that event, this winning bid for John Lennon’s ‘lost’ guitar is a great moment for the music industry, the auction industry, for our auction house and the timing is perfect because we have a Ringo Starr Auction coming the first week of December.”