Lost John Lennon Guitar Discovered in an Attic Sells for $2.85 Million

lost John Lennon guitar
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lost John Lennon guitar
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Photo Credit: Julien’s Auctions

A guitar once used by John Lennon has sold for nearly $2.9 million at auction, setting a new world record for the highest selling Beatles guitar.

The 12-string Hootenanny acoustic guitar used by John Lennon in the recording of the Beatles’ 1965 album Help! and seen in the film of the same name, had been lost for over 50 years. The guitar was recently discovered by a family in the rural British countryside during a move, and subsequently put up for auction.

The guitar’s provenance was authenticated through Julien’s Auctions by the Beatles historians Andy Babiuk and Danny Bennett, and was put up for auction with an estimate of between £485,000 and £647,000. It sold for an unprecedented £2.3 million (approximately $2.9 million), through a telephone bid at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York on Wednesday as part of a two-day music icons sale by Julien’s Auctions.

Co-founder and director of Julien’s Auctions, Darren Julien, said he travelled to the UK to have the guitar authenticated at the house it was being stored in. The original case was also salvaged, which had been thrown in a trash bin.

“We are absolutely thrilled and honored to have set a new world record with the sale of John Lennon’s lost Hootenanny guitar,” said David Goodman, chief executive of the auctioneers. “This guitar is not only a piece of music history but a symbol of John Lennon’s enduring legacy. Today’s unprecedented sale is a testament to the timeless appeal and reverence of the Beatles’ music and John Lennon.”

The instrument was once owned by Scottish guitarist Gordon Waller, known as one half of the pop duo Peter and Gordon. He later gave the guitar to his band’s road managers. The guitar was made by the Bavarian firm Framus in the early 1960s.

It was most famously used by John Lennon during the Beatles’ recording sessions for Help!, including the tracks “It’s Only Love,” “I’ve Just Seen a Face,” and “Girl,” and on the rhythm track for “Norwegian Wood” played by George Harrison. The guitar can be seen played by Lennon in the Help! movie when the group plays “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.”

Julien’s Auctions sold another Lennon guitar in 2015 — a J-160E Gibson acoustic guitar stolen from him that was later unwittingly purchased by a musician in the late ‘60s. That instrument sold for £1.6 million (or around $2.4 million at the time). The company also sold a drum kit used by Ringo Starr for $2.2 million, and a copy of the Beatles’ White Album once owned by him.