A guitar played by George Harrison in the Beatles’ early days, previously on display in a British museum, goes on auction in New York Friday, valued at $400,000 to $600,000.
The electric guitar is the two-day auction’s star item, amid hundreds of possessions once owned by rock ‘n’ roll’s biggest stars, which auctioneers hope will rake in millions. Harrison borrowed the guitar while his was under repair and was photographed and filmed playing it at concerts, said Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien’s Auctions.
‘It was played by Harrison in the Cavern Club in the early 60s,’ said Nolan, referring to a Liverpool nightclub that gave birth to the world’s biggest band. ‘That is a really iconic piece, highly sought after. The estimate is $400,000 to $600,000 but I think it goes a lot higher,’ he told AFP. The guitar is being sold by a collector in Britain who had loaned it to the Beatles museum in Liverpool, where it became a ‘great draw,’ Nolan said.
‘Even the new owner may decide to lend it back to them.’ The New York auction will potentially draw fans, celebrities and museums, as well as Wall Street bankers and hedge funds looking for an investment. The highlight of the sale at the Hard Rock Cafe on Saturday is a state-of-the-art tour bus bought by Elvis Presley for his back-up band, J.D. Sumner and the Stamps, in 1976, the year before he died.
Valued at $100,000 to 200,000 and refitted with dusty peach soft furnishings, the bus still has Elvis’ ‘Takin’ Care of Business’ motto and a lightening bolt emblazoned on the outside. Fully road worthy, it seats 12, sleeps nine and comes equipped with air conditioning, a fridge, microwave, TVs and speakers. There are even chandelier-style lights hanging from the lounge area.
Inside is a copy of the $25,000 check that Elvis made out to friend and mentor Sumner to purchase the bus. Elvis is believed to have had some meetings on the bus but by 1976, he had no personal need for road transport, flying high on his private jets the Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II. But he did have a burning desire to road-test the bus, calming Sumner’s nerves by promising to buy him another if it crashed, Nolan said.
‘He took the bus out from Graceland and he drove right out into the country and then he was worried how am I going to turn this bus around, so he drove into a corn field, drove back out again and back home.’ The bus is one of nearly 200 Elvis items going on the auction block, including a military uniform, a black-and-white stage outfit valued at $60,000 to $80,000, and a ‘Love Me Tender’ record dedicated to his beloved mother Gladys.
Even if the Harrison guitar is top lot, Elvis is king when it comes to generating mega bucks at music auctions. Nolan said there is worldwide interest in the bus, which could end up in Australia, Japan, China or Europe or just as easily stay in America. ‘Elvis prices continue to go higher and higher as there is less and less stuff available, and people want to get in and be part of the act,’ Nolan told AFP. Other stand-out items include an Eric Clapton guitar valued at $30,000 to $40,000 and outfits worn by Michael Jackson.