John Lennon’s guitar, lost for 50 years, sells for record $2.85 million

Where to see John Lennon’s lost guitar in NYC

Where to see John Lennon’s lost guitar in NYC


A piece of music history has sold for a record-setting price. 

John Lennon’s Framus Hootenanny 12-string acoustic guitar was used by Lennon and Beatles bandmate George Harrison during recording sessions for the bands’ 1965 albums “Help!” and “Rubber Soul,” according to Julien’s Auctions, which sells celebrity pieces. The guitar was also seen in outtakes for the Beatles’ comedy movie “Help!” 

Lennon acquired the guitar in late 1964, the auction house said, and it was photographed during recording sessions. Handwritten notes from producer George Martin indicated that Lennon and Harrison each used the instrument on “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” according to Julien’s. The guitar was also played on songs including “It’s Only Love,” “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “Girl” — and of course, “Help!” 

A close-up of an acoustic guitar.
Lennon’s guitar. 

Julien’s Auctions

At the end of 1965, the guitar was gifted by Lennon to Gordon Waller of the pop duo Peter & Gordon. Harrison and Lennon had been writing songs for the pair, according to the auction house. Later, Waller would give the guitar to a manager, who stashed it in his attic for decades, leaving a piece of music history to gather dust. 

The auction house did not specify how they found the guitar more than 50 years after it was last seen, but said that the instrument’s authenticity has been confirmed by musician and “Beatles Gear” author Andy Babiuk. The guitar was identified thanks to its distinctive markings, including what the auction house described as a “telltale wood grain” and “swirl of tortoise shell pickguard material.” 

“With the Hootenanny, the real proof is in the sound. When strummed, it immediately identifies itself as “that” guitar. If you know the chords, Beatles tunes fall out of the sound hole effortlessly,” the auction house said. “Like an audio time capsule from 1965, the Framus is a direct link to those records.” 

The guitar sold at an auction held at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City’s Times Square. The final bid was $2,857,500, making the instrument the fifth most-expensive guitar ever sold. 

Also included in the sale was the guitar’s case, which was also photographed with the Beatles, and some Beatles memorabilia, including a DVD of “Help!”

No information was shared about the guitar’s new owner, though the auction house described the buyer as “the custodian of a piece of Lennon’s soul, a tangible link to the creative energy that flowed through him and touched the lives of millions.” 

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