How much would you pay if someone offered to give you a beat up old guitar that had burn marks all over it?
Chances are if you found it at a flea market in that condition, you might pony up just a few dollars.
But what if you found out that axe was once owned by guitar god Jimi Hendrix – and that those scorch marks came after he set the instrument on fire in a legendary concert in London in 1967?
That last fact upped the price in a big way and the famous Fender Stratocaster (top left) sold at auction in England on Thursday for US$497,557. It was bought by an American collector named Daniel Boucher, who also paid for the flight to Britain just to bid on the iconic item.
He believes he got a bargain. “I thought I’d have to pay a little bit more for it, actually,” he reveals. The original estimated worth of the instrument was $900,000.
What does he plan to do with his expensive new toy? You may not believe it. “I am going to play it,” he promises. “I hope some of it rubs off on me.”
It wasn’t the same guitar that Hendrix set ablaze on film at the memorable 1967 Monterey Pop festival, but to Boucher, it’s just as good. This one was found in the home of a relative of the late musician’s former press officer.
The guitar was one of 250 lots of rare memorabilia that included the first contract ever signed by the Beatles and a gun permit issued to Elvis Presley.
The document marking the Fab Four’s first deal proves that money can’t buy you love, but it can purchase a piece of history. The contract bearing the signatures of all four Beatles along with manager Brian Epstein and George Harrison and Paul McCartney’s fathers, was signed on Oct. 1, 1962. It fetched $426,478.
And the concealed gun permit issued to the King of Rock and Roll also featured his fingerprints. That was enough to get someone to bid $81,740 to own it.
The prices paid surprised some. Many believed the market for rock memorabilia had softened with the economy but the outcome shows unique items will still bring a hefty price. And few were more unique than these.
Photo credit: Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images