‘Most significant Beatles guitar ever to be auctioned’ sells for £1.5m

‘Most significant Beatles guitar ever to be auctioned’ sells for £1.5m

A guitar used by John Lennon is believed to have set a new world record for the highest-selling instrument sold at auction in Beatles memorabilia history – going for a cool £1.5m.

The 12-string Hootenanny acoustic, which was used in the recording of the Fab Four’s 1965 album and film Help! , was discovered in an attic, having not been seen or played for more than 50 years.

After being used by The Beatles, the guitar, made by Bavarian firm Framus, came into the posession of Scottish musician Gordon Waller, known as one half of pop duo Peter and Gordon, who later gave it to his band’s road managers.

Decades later, new owners living in the rural British countryside rediscovered the guitar in the midst of their move and put it up for auction with an estimate of £485,000 to £647,000.

The instrument was acquired via a phone bid at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York on Wednesday (29 May), as part of a two-day music icons sale by Julien’s Auctions.

“We are absolutely thrilled and honoured to have set a new world record with the sale of John Lennon's lost hootenanny guitar,” David Goodman, chief executive of Julien's Auctions, said in a statement.

John Lennon’s Framus acoustic guitar (Julien’s/press)
John Lennon’s Framus acoustic guitar (Julien’s/press)

“This guitar is not only a piece of music history but a symbol of John Lennon's enduring legacy.

“[The sale] symbolises what we do best at Julien's - creating opportunities for people to reconnect with the cultural touchstones that have shaped the moments that matter most throughout their lives.”

He added that the “unprecedented” sale was “a testament to the timeless appeal and reverence of The Beatles' music and John Lennon”.

Fans can see the guitar being played in the scene of the Help! movie where the band perform “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away”, and was played during recording sessions for “Help!”, “It’s Only Love”, “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “Girl”.

It was also used on the rhyhtm track for “Norwegian Wood”, when it was played by George Harrison.

George Harrison playing the guitar during a Beatles studio session (Beatles Book Photo Library)
George Harrison playing the guitar during a Beatles studio session (Beatles Book Photo Library)

Darren Julien, the co-founder and executive director of Julien’s Auctions, said he had travelled to the UK to verify the guitar at the house it was being stored in and also managed to salvage the original case, which had been thrown in a bin.

He told The Independent ahead of the auction of how he was able to identify the instrument: “The woodgrain of a guitar is like a fingerprint in that no two guitars are the same.

“Not only is the woodgrain a perfect match to the guitar that John and George are playing, but so is the pickguard which can be exactly photo matched.

“Because the guitar has been undisturbed for approximately five decades, it is in the exact condition in terms of aesthetics that it was when John and George played it.”

Julien noted that the Framus guitar held additional importance due to the fact that it had been played by both Lennon and Harrison, calling it “the most significant Beatles guitar to ever come up for auction”.