John Lennon’s guitar, lost for 50 years, sells for record $2.85 million


Where to see John Lennon’s lost guitar in NYC

Where to see John Lennon’s lost guitar in NYC

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An iconic piece of music history has been auctioned for a record-breaking amount. John Lennon’s Framus Hootenanny 12-string acoustic guitar was played by Lennon and Beatles’ George Harrison during the band’s recording sessions for their 1965 LPs “Help!” and “Rubber Soul,” as per Julien’s Auctions, which manages the sale of celebrity items. The guitar also appeared in unused scenes for the Beatles’ comedy film “Help!” Lennon procured the guitar towards the end of 1964, noted the auction house, and it was captured in photos during studio sessions. Handwritten annotations from producer George Martin revealed that Lennon and Harrison both utilized the guitar on “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” according to Julien’s. The guitar was also featured in tracks such as “It’s Only Love,” “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” “Girl,” and “Help!” 

A close-up of an acoustic guitar.

Lennon’s guitar. 

Julien’s Auctions

By the end of 1965, the guitar was presented by Lennon to Gordon Waller of the pop pair Peter & Gordon. Harrison and Lennon were crafting compositions for the duo, reported the auction house. Eventually, Waller handed the guitar to a manager, who stored it in his attic for decades, letting this piece of music heritage gather dust. 

The auction house did not clarify how they traced the guitar over 50 years after its last sighting, but confirmed that the guitar’s genuineness has been verified by musician and “Beatles Gear” author Andy Babiuk. The guitar was recognized due to its unique features, including a “telltale wood grain” and a “swirl of tortoise shell pickguard material,” explained the auction house. “When strummed, the Hootenanny instantly identifies itself as “that” guitar. If you are familiar with the chords, Beatles melodies emerge effortlessly from the sound hole,” stated the auction house. “Similar to an audio time capsule from 1965, the Framus acts as a direct connection to those records.” The guitar was sold at a sale held at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City’s Times Square. The ultimate bid reached $2,857,500, positioning the instrument as the fifth most-expensive guitar ever sold. 

Additionally included in the sale was the guitar’s case, which was also photographed with the Beatles, and other Beatles artifacts, such as a DVD of “Help!” Details about the new owner were not disclosed, though the auction house described the purchaser as “the guardian of a piece of Lennon’s spirit, a tangible connection to the creative force that touched millions of lives.” 

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Kerry Breen

Kerry Breen is an editor for news at CBSNews.com. A graduate of New York University’s Arthur L. Carter School of Journalism, she previously worked at NBC News’ TODAY Digital. She covers current events, breaking stories, and topics including substance abuse.

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