Clapton Guitars Fetch $5 Million at Auction - Rolling Stone
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Clapton Guitars Fetch $5 Million at Auction

Clapton Guitars Fetch $5 Million at Auction

In a day of staggering bidding, an anonymous bidder dropped a half
million dollars for one of Eric Clapton’s favorite guitars
yesterday in an auction to benefit the guitarist’s Crossroads
Centre drug and alcohol rehabilitation facility in Antigua.|
“Brownie,” the 1956 sunburst Fender Stratocaster Clapton used on
his hit “Layla,” was among 100 acoustic and electric guitars that
went on the block at Christie’s in Rockefeller Center.

Onlookers were lined up for hours prior to the auction of the
guitar god’s tools, and a capacity crowd of potential buyers filled
the salesroom as they sought to pick up a piece of rock & roll
history. “I had no idea the auction would do so well,” Clapton said
afterwards in a statement. Neither did Christie’s, who estimated
that one hundred of Clapton’s instruments would pull in close to $1
million. The sale actually netted just over $5 million, all of
which Clapton will donate to Crossroads.

The previous record tag for a single guitar was $320,000 for an ax
once owned by Jimi Hendrix. “Brownie” drew an initial bid of
$200,000 and eventually quintupled estimates that it would sell for
between $80,000 and $100,000 when an anonymous phone buyer placed
the winning bid. “It’s outrageous, but worth it” said Matt
Brewster, owner of 30th Street Guitars, one of New York’s largest
vintage guitar stores. Brewster estimated that a 1954 Fender
Stratocaster like the one that sold for $211,500 at the Clapton
auction would fetch about $20,000 in “dead mint” condition. He
attributed the inflated price to Clapton’s longtime association
with the Stratocaster. Amidst the flurry of overpriced guitars,
Brewster said a 1958 Gibson Explorer that sold for $134,500 was the
steal of the auction. “They made under twenty of those,” Brewster
said. “I personally thought it would go for a half million.”

Actor Michael J. Fox was among the winners, spending $36,800 for a
1949 Gibson-125 and $42,500 for a 1930s National Duolian. In a
statement, Fox said Clapton “has meant a lot to me…this combined
with my admiration for his gesture towards this great cause made
this auction something I could not pass up.”

Clapton was unable to attend the auction, but said afterwards, “I
can’t believe it. I’m totally overwhelmed. I want to say thank you
to everyone who showed up and made this such a memorable occasion.
I also want to say thank you on behalf of all the patients who will
get free treatment as a result of this sale.” Clapton founded the
Crossroads Centre in 1998 as an affordable clinic for clients with
alcohol or drug dependency. Clapton’s benefit concert for the
clinic will take place June 30 at Madison Square Garden.

In This Article: Eric Clapton


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