British rock legend Eric Clapton parted with 70 of his guitars in a charity auction on Wednesday that drew hundreds of fans and aficionados, and broke sale estimates.
Clapton’s 1948 Gibson hollow body guitar brought in US$83,000, making it the most expensive item in the auction. Its estimated value stood at US$30,000.
Most items sold for much higher than estimated by Bonhams auction house.
The auction included numerous Fender Stratocaster guitars, which the legendary guitarist is so closely associated with, including a black model he used during the Cream Reunion concerts at the Royal Albert Hall in London and New York’s Madison Square Garden in 2005.
Clapton’s signature Stratocaster sold for US$51,000 in the auction, which was carried out simultaneously in New York, Los Angeles, London and online.
Proceeds will go to the Crossroads Center in Antigua, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center which Clapton, himself a recovered alcoholic and former heroin addict, founded in 1998.
An acoustic 12-string Martin guitar Clapton played on his song Motherless Child sold for US$70,000, way above its estimated US$5,000 price tag.
Another guitar that drew auctioneers’ attention was a 2006 replica — down to the cigarette stains on its headstock — of Clapton’s “Blackie” Stratocaster, which he played throughout the 1970s. It fetched more than US$30,000.
The original Blackie was bought by musical instruments chain store Guitar Center for a record US$959,500 in 2004.
The auction also offered dozens of Clapton’s amplifiers, including a vintage 1960s Supro amp said to have been used by guitarist Jimmy Page on the Led Zeppelin II album. It went under the hammer for US$28,000.
This isn’t the first time Clapton put his instruments up for auction. In 1999, he raised more than US$5 million and in 2004, another US$7.4 million that went toward the Crossroads Center.
In addition to Clapton’s gear, there were also guitars donated and autographed by other rock legends, such as Jeff Beck, J.J. Cale and Joe Bonamassa.
More eclectic artifacts put on the auction block included a Gianni Versace three-piece suit made for Clapton’s concert at the Royal Albert Hall in 1990, a black leather tote bag designed by Andrea Valentini and a signed cellular phone Clapton advertised.
The 65-year-old rocker is considered one of the world’s greatest guitar players and was crowned by Rolling Stone magazine in 2004 as one of the greatest musicians of all times.
Nicknamed “Slowhand” as a pun for his fast-playing style, Clapton took part in the groups The Yardbirds and Cream before embarking on a solo career. His hit songs include “I Shot the Sheriff,” “Cocaine,” “Layla” and “Tears in Heaven.”