The guitar John Lennon used to record early Beatles hits like “Love Me Do” is hitting the auction block in November – and the price tag is mind-boggling. The 1962 J-160E Gibson acoustic is estimated to bring between $600,000 and $800,000 at the Julien’s Auctions sale, according to the New York Times.
The instrument is iconic enough, but its bizarre backstory offers extra collector appeal. According to the auction listing, Lennon purchased the jumbo Gibson in September 1962 and used it during the band’s September 11th session at London’s EMI Studios to record “P.S. I Love You” and “Love Me Do.” Lennon reportedly employed the acoustic during early writing sessions with Paul McCartney, resulting in classics like “She Loves You,” “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Please, Please, Me,” “All My Loving,” “From Me to You” and “This Boy.”
The guitar then went missing in December 1963 during the Beatles’ Finsbury Park Christmas Show for 50 years, only to be identified and authenticated last year. Amateur guitarist John McCaw purchased the guitar in San Diego in the 1970s for “a couple of hundred dollars” and kept it in his collection, luckily choosing not to modify or refurbish it.
Last year, a friend recognized the Gibson in a book by Beatles memorabilia expert Andy Babiuk – and though the Fab Four historian said “99 percent” of such claims turn out to be “nothing,” he was struck by the instrument’s matching appearance and serial number, analyzing the wood grain to make his final determination.
“There’s no mistaking it’s the guitar,” said Darren Julien, president and chief executive of the Los Angeles auction house.
The auction is scheduled for November 6th and 7th. Before then, the guitar will be displayed at two summer exhibitions, at the L.B.J. Presidential Library in Austin, Texas (from June 13th to 29th) and at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles (from July 2nd to September 7th). Prior to the sale, the piece will be put on public display at Julien’s from November 2nd to 6th.