Dylan's sunburst Fender Stratocaster has surpassed Eric Clapton's 'Blackie' as the most expensive guitar ever auctioned
Bob Dylan, without knowing it, made history on Friday, 6 December, when the sunburst Fender Stratocaster he played during the Newport Folk Festival in 1965 was sold at auction for just short of $1 million. According to The Associated Press, the instrument that best signifies Dylan's move from acoustic folk to electric rock sold for $965,000 at Christie's Auction House in New York.
Bob Dylan still tours and performs to this day
Christie's have witheld the identity of the buyer, but did say that their purchase is the most paid for a guitar at auction ever. The guitar was sold sold with its original black leather strap and Fender hard shell case and was initially marked to sell for anywhere between $300,000 to $500,000. The final price fetched for the guitar moves it just ahead of the previous record holder: 'Blackie,' the Fender Stratocaster once owned by Eric Clapton, which sold at Christie's for $959,500 in 2004.
Although it may seem a tad excessive to spend almost $1 million on an electric guitar that will probably never get played, Dylan's Strat is one steeped in history and is a Holy Grail-like item for his biggest fans. The Fender was used by Dylan during his three-song Newport Folk Festival appearance in 1965, often seen as the moment when Dylan announced himself as a rock 'n' roll artist rather than a folk artist. He drew boos from the crowd during that set, as many saw him as a sell-out for abandoning his folk roots, but that didn't stop Dylan from going on to produce some of the most critically acclaimed albums of all time.
The singer/songwriter was regularly attacked by his audiences for years to come
Not only does the guitar have a rich history, but the hard shell case it is housed in also holds a hidden gem: early draft lyrics for four of his songs: 'Absolutely Sweet Marie,' 'I Wanna Be Your Lover' and two others. The lyrics will be sold separately and are estimated to fetch between $3,000 and $30,000 by the auction house.
Whilst we do not know the identity of the buyer, the seller of the item has an interesting story to tell as to how they acquired the six string. Dylan left the guitar on a private plane as he fled the festival and never bothered to reclaim it, even after the pilot had gotten in touch with Dylan's management at various points, his claims being ignored each time. The guitar remained with the family for near fifty years and was authenticated last year when the pilot's daughter, Dawn Peterson, brought it on the PBS show History Detectives.
Still cool and relevant after all these years