John Lennon’s guitar fetches $2.4 million at auction


An acoustic guitar which once belonged to John Lennon, has sold for a record $2.41 million over the weekend, beating original estimates of $600,000 to $800,000.

In September 1962, Lennon, one of the founding members of The Beatles, purchased a J-160E Gibson acoustic guitar from Rushworth's Music House in Liverpool. The guitar was then used in the writing and recording of such Beatles hits as "Love Me Do" and "I Want to Hold your Hand."

John Lennon and the J-160E Gibson acoustic guitar.
Evening Standard/Getty Images | Courtesy of Julien's Auctions

However, in December 1963 during The Beatles' Finsbury Park Christmas show, Lennon's guitar went missing and was not seen for over 50 years, until a novice musician, John McCaw realized he was in possession of the instrument.

The Californian-based auction house, Julien's Auctions describes the instrument as "a rare and significant guitar to John Lennon's history."

With the guitar selling at a record sum, it's not just fans who want a slice of music memorabilia but serious investors too.

"This record price of $2.41 million dollars for a guitar shows that historical artifacts relating to the music industry are not just for fans but for serious investors and collectors. It's the new art market," Darren Julien, president and CEO of Julien's Auctions, told CNBC via email.

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"Having John Lennon's guitar hang on your wall is far more sexier than having a Monet and chances are it will increase in value in a very short period of time. We are honored to be a part of this guitars history as its one of the most important finds in music history," Julien added.

According to Guinness World Records, the most expensive guitar sold at auction goes to a Fender Stratocaster – signed by an array of music legends – which sold for $2.7 million at a 2005 charity auction in Qatar.

The Beatles T-Logo Drum Head and Elvis Presley’s Gold Leaf Piano.
Courtesy of Julien's Auctions

Lennon's lost guitar wasn't the only piece up for grabs from the iconic British rock band. A "T-logo" drum head – not kit – from the Beatles sold for over $2.1 million, which appeared on the band's 1964 debut U.S. television appearance on "The Ed Sullivan Show."

Before the auction took place, Julien told CNBC there was no set estimate as the drum skin was "very difficult" to value. A lock of John Lennon's hair with an inscribed card sold for $25,000 and a Beatles signed baseball sold for $100,000 as well.

Other noteworthy pieces of memorabilia sold at the rock n' roll-themed auction included Elvis Presley's gold-leaf piano, which sold for $600,000. Other Presley items sold for several thousands, including his stage-worn jacket, which went for $59,375.

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A cardigan worn by Nirvana's lead singer, Kurt Cobain during his iconic MTV Unplugged appearance in 1993 sold for $137,500, more than double the original estimate.

With more auctions featuring memorabilia from iconic musicians and actors to come from Julien's Auctions, Julien concluded that he expected to see "more record prices" in their future.

By CNBC's Alexandra Gibbs, follow her on Twitter @AlexGibbsy.