Lost John Lennon ‘Help!’ Beatles Guitar Breaks Auction Record

A guitar once used by John Lennon and George Harrison has shattered records at an auction in New York, selling for an astonishing $2.9 million (£2.3m). The 12-string Hootenanny acoustic guitar, manufactured in the early ’60s by Bavarian company Framus, gained fame for its appearance in the Beatles’ movie Help!.

This iconic instrument was featured in the film as John Lennon played “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away.” It was also used in the studio recordings of “Help!”’s title track, “It’s Only Love,” and “I’ve Just Seen a Face.” George Harrison later used the rare guitar on the tracks “Norwegian Wood” and “Girl.”

The guitar, lost for 50 years, resurfaced and went under the hammer at Julien’s Auctions, held at the Hard Rock Cafe. Despite initial estimates of $600,000-$800,000 (£485,000-£647,000), it fetched a record-breaking $2.9 million, becoming the most expensive John Lennon-owned instrument ever sold at auction. This surpassed the previous record set by a J-160E Gibson acoustic guitar of Lennon’s, which sold for $2.41 million (£1.6m) in 2015.

David Goodman, chief executive of Julien’s Auctions, emphasised the guitar’s significance. “This guitar is not only a piece of music history but a symbol of John Lennon’s enduring legacy,” he stated. “Today’s unprecedented sale is a testament to the timeless appeal and reverence of The Beatles’ music and John Lennon.”

Before the auction, Darren Julien, co-founder and executive director of Julien’s Auctions, recounted the guitar’s rediscovery. He revealed that the instrument had been given to its previous owners by Gordon Waller of 1960s pop duo Peter and Gordon. It remained forgotten in an attic until its recent re-emergence.

“Finding this remarkable instrument is like finding a lost Rembrandt or Picasso,” Julien remarked. “It still looks and plays like a dream.”

Julien, along with Beatles historians Andy Babiuk and Danny Bennett, verified the guitar’s authenticity. “The woodgrain of a guitar is like a fingerprint,” Julien explained. “Not only is the woodgrain a perfect match to the guitar that John and George played, but so is the pickguard, which can be exactly photo-matched.”

The auction also featured other notable memorabilia, including the telephone used by Lennon and Yoko Ono during their Bed-Ins for Peace, items from Tina Turner, Freddie Mercury, Angus Young, U2, Michael Jackson, Joan Jett, and former Mötley Crüe guitarist Mick Mars. Additionally, a book of handwritten lyrics by Tupac Shakur, a handwritten setlist by Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain, and a Fendi dress owned by Amy Winehouse were sold.

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