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Legendary Guitars

Take a finely crafted object, add exceptional provenance and the passion of collectors with means — the likes of Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen and actors Richard Gere and Steven Seagal. What do you get? Some of the world’s most expensive electric guitars.

Like most collectibles, vintage guitars have lost value since the financial crisis. At an auction this weekend of guitars and equipment that belonged to late legendary guitar innovator Les Paul, the top estimate for a signed 1968 Gibson is $80,000 — 30 percent less than what it might have gone for five years ago. But prices are still riding high from their explosion in the late 1990s, as buyers who were teens in rock’s infancy got older, and richer. A legendary instrument — one played by a true guitar hero at an important moment — can still fetch above $1 million, or more.

Click ahead to see the vintage guitar with the deepest cred —and some of the highest prices paid by enthusiasts.

By Rachel Swaby
Posted 8 June 12

K & K Ulf Kruger OHG | Redferns | Getty Images