Lost John Lennon ‘Help!’ Beatles guitar breaks record at auction


A guitar used by both John Lennon and George Harrison, which appeared in the movie Help!, has sold for a record-breaking amount at auction.

The model in question is a 12-string Hootenanny acoustic guitar that was made in the early ’60s by Bavarian manufacturer Framus. It famously appeared in the Beatles movie Help!, with Lennon using it to play ‘You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away’.

It also features on the studio version of the song, as well as on ‘Help!’s title track, ‘It’s Only Love’ and ‘I’ve Just Seen A Face’. George Harrison also used the rare model on ‘Norwegian Wood’ and ‘Girl’.

After being lost for 50 years, the guitar headed to auction in New York, and has now sold for a record-breaking $2.9million (£2.3m).

The sale was held by Julien’s Auctions and took place at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York. The winning bid was placed over the phone, and it has not been confirmed who the model was bought by. Originally, it was predicted to sell for between $600,000-$800,000 (£485,000-£647,000).

With the huge bid, the Framus has become the most expensive instrument owned by John Lennon to be sold at auction. This is because the figure surpasses another one of the late Beatles’ instruments went to auction at Julien’s in 2015 and sold for $2.41m (£1.6m at the time).

The model in question was a J-160E Gibson acoustic guitar, which was stolen from the songwriting legend and unwittingly bought by a musician in the late ’60s.

David Goodman, chief executive of Julien’s Auctions, claimed the Framus was the most important Beatles guitar to ever come to market. “This guitar is not only a piece of music history but a symbol of John Lennon’s enduring legacy, he said (via BBC News). “Today’s unprecedented sale is a testament to the timeless appeal and reverence of The Beatles’ music and John Lennon.”

Before the sale took place, Darren Julien, the co-founder and executive director of Julien’s Auctions, shared the backstory behind the 12-string model and explained how it was found after half a century.

According to him, the previous owners were gifted the guitar by Gordon Waller – from 1960s pop stars Peter and Gordon – and kept it in the attic, ultimately forgetting that they owned it.

“Finding this remarkable instrument is like finding a lost Rembrandt or Picasso, and it still looks and plays like a dream,” he said (via The Guardian).

He also added that he had travelled to the UK to verify the guitar and also rescued the original case, which had been thrown in the bin. He, alongside Beatles historians Andy Babiuk and Danny Bennett, confirmed that the instrument was the model in question from Help!.

“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.”

John Lennon's iconic 1964 Framus 'Help!' guitar goes to Julien's Auctions' Music Icons event on Wednesday, May 29, 2024.
John Lennon’s iconic 1964 Framus ‘Help!’ guitar goes to Julien’s Auctions’ Music Icons event on May 29, 2024. (Photo by Selcuk Acar/Anadolu via Getty Images)

Alongside the instrument, the telephone Lennon and Yoko Ono used during their Bed-Ins For Peace protest also went to sale, as did more memorabilia from the likes of Tina Turner, Freddie Mercury, Angus Young, U2, Michael Jackson, Joan Jett, and former Mötley Crüe guitarist Mick Mars.

The auction also included a book of handwritten lyrics by Tupac Shakur, as well as a handwritten setlist by Nirvana‘s Kurt Cobain and a Fendi dress owned by Amy Winehouse.

In other Beatles news, drummer Ringo Starr recently gave the newly restored Let It Be documentary his seal of approval, despite previously claiming that there was “not a lot of joy” in it.

While the original film has been difficult to obtain over the past five decades, last month, NME exclusively announced that Disney+ were to release a restored version of the 1970 film.

Ahead of its release, NME gave the re-release of Let It Be a glowing four-star review. “What Let It Be has gained through the decades, though, is historical weight. The sight of The Beatles playing and rehearsing together, freely and candidly, will never lose its window-on-history magic. Meanwhile, tracks that might have felt new – even a bit throwaway – in 1970 have become stone cold classics,” it read.

Originally Posted Here

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