John Lennon’s lost guitar, featured on ‘Help!,’ sold for a record .8 million

A lost guitar played by John Lennon at height of Beatlemania that had been stashed away in an attic for decades has been sold at auction for more than $2.8 million. The sale makes it the most expensive item belonging to a former Beatle and one of the most expensive guitars of all time.

The 1964 12-string Framus Hootenanny guitar, played by both Lennon and George Harrison during the making of “Help!” and “Rubber Soul” in 1965, was considered missing for 50 years. But it re-emerged and was sold at New York’s Hard Rock Cafe on Wednesday for $2,857,500, Julien’s Auctions said in a statement.

A Gibson acoustic guitar also once owned by Lennon was sold at auction for $2.4 million in 2015.

Lennon can be seen playing the Framus guitar in the movie “Help!” and it has been matched to photos from recording sessions and handwritten notes by producer George Martin, the auctioneer said.

The German-made guitar features prominently on songs including “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” an example of The Beatles moving towards the folk-rock popularized by Bob Dylan and lyrics with more story-telling qualities.

It also lends a big, round acoustic sound to “Help!, “I’ve Just Seen a Face” and “Norwegian Wood.”

John Lennon’s lost 1965 “HELP!” Framus 12-String Hootenanny Acoustic Guitar on display at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City on May 21.zz / NDZ / STAR MAX / IPx via AP

Julien’s said that the guitar was then gifted to Gordon Waller, one half of the British invasion-era 1960s pop duo Peter & Gordon, who had a hit with “A World Without Love,” written for them by Paul McCartney. From there, the guitar ended up in the hands of a manager who stashed it in an attic for decades.

Beatles gear expert, musician and author Andy Babiuk helped confirm that the guitar is genuine, thanks to some original markings, including the tortoise shell of the pickguard.

Babiuk described the moment he was asked to authenticate the instrument in a video on his website.

“This is a guitar that has been missing since 1965, it’s one of the missing Beatle guitars, it’s one of the few remaining Beatle guitars that aren’t accounted for,” he said.

“It’s so important — it’s the sound we hear on those great songs that we all love, and it’s so great to know that a piece of history has finally been found,” he added.

“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. Like an audio time capsule from 1965, the Framus is a direct link to those records,” Julien’s said in its statement.

The guitar’s original case also still survives intact, complete with the shop tag.

Julien’s continues to auction items from notable music icons on Thursday.


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