Guitar that George Harrison used for just a few months during Beatlemania in 1963 sells for $490,000 at auction
- The Mastersound electric guitar was sold to an undisclosed bidder
- The auction house said Harrison borrowed it from a British music store and played it on stage several times in England for a summer
- It was offered during a two-day rock memorabilia auction
By ASSOCIATED PRESS and AFP REPORTER
PUBLISHED: 17 May 2015
A guitar George Harrison played at a time when Beatlemania was taking flight has sold for nearly half a million dollars at a New York auction.
Julien's Auctions says the 1963 Mastersound electric guitar went for $490,000 Friday to an undisclosed bidder.
Julien's says Harrison borrowed it from a British music store and played it on stage several times in England and in Channel Islands in the summer of 1963.
Sold! Musician George Harrison's Mastersound Electric guitar was sold for $495,000 at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York
The electric guitar was the two-day auction's star item, amid hundreds of possessions once owned by rock 'n' roll's biggest stars, which auctioneers hope will rake in millions.
Harrison borrowed the guitar while his was under repair and was photographed and filmed playing it at concerts.
'It was played by Harrison in the Cavern Club in the early 60s,' said Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien's Auctions., referring to a Liverpool nightclub that gave birth to the world's biggest band.
'That is a really iconic piece, highly sought after.
Across the pond: The guitar played by Harrison in the Beatles' early days, was previously on display in a British museum
The guitar was sold by a collector in Britain who had loaned it to the Beatles museum in Liverpool, where it became a 'great draw,' Nolan said.
'Even the new owner may decide to lend it back to them.'
The highlight of the sale at the Hard Rock Cafe on Saturday was a state-of-the-art tour bus bought by Elvis Presley for his back-up band, J.D. Sumner and the Stamps, in 1976, the year before he died.
Valued at $100,000 to 200,000 and refitted with dusty peach soft furnishings, the bus still has Elvis' 'Takin' Care of Business' motto and a lightening bolt emblazoned on the outside.
Fully road worthy, it seats 12, sleeps nine and comes equipped with air conditioning, a fridge, microwave, TVs and speakers. There are even chandelier-style lights hanging from the lounge area.
Museum piece: Musician George Harrison's Mastersound Electric Guitar is seen on display
The Fab Four: The Beatles (from left to right), Paul McCartney (bass), George Harrison (guitar), Ringo Starr (drums) and John Lennon (guitar) perform on stage during a concert in 1965 in London
Inside is a copy of the $25,000 check that Elvis made out to friend and mentor Sumner to purchase the bus.
Elvis is believed to have had some meetings on the bus but by 1976, he had no personal need for road transport, flying high on his private jets the Lisa Marie and Hound Dog II.
But he did have a burning desire to road-test the bus, calming Sumner's nerves by promising to buy him another if it crashed, Nolan said.
'He took the bus out from Graceland and he drove right out into the country and then he was worried how am I going to turn this bus around, so he drove into a corn field, drove back out again and back home.'
Even though Harrison's guitar is top lot, Elvis is king when it comes to generating mega bucks at music auctions.
Nolan said there is worldwide interest in the bus, which could end up in Australia, Japan, China or Europe... or just as easily stay in America.
'Elvis prices continue to go higher and higher as there is less and less stuff available, and people want to get in and be part of the act,' Nolan said.
A so-called 'penguin' suit that Elvis Presley wore on stage in Las Vegas in 1975 sold for nearly $122,000. Presley's marriage certificate from his 1967 wedding to Priscilla Presley sold for over $40,000.
A vest worn by Jimi Hendrix sold for over $59,000. A tank top Madonna wore sold for $25,000.
The story: Barratts music store in Manchester, England, loaned Harrison the Maton Mastersound MS-500 electric guitar in 1963 for a couple of hours while his own was under repair. Harrison liked the sound so he kept the loaner for the summer