Published: June 29, 2004
A thundering two-hour sale, carried by waves of fierce bidding and outbursts of excrdf_Descriptionent from many Eric Clapton fans, took place at Christie’s “Crossroads” auction on June 24.
In the fully packed salesroom, bidders from all over the world competed passionately to acquire guitars from Eric Clapton’s collection or instruments donated by his musician friends.
The sale was 100 percent sold and totaled $7,438,624, easily eclipsing the $5 million result achieved for the first Eric Clapton sale organized by Christie’s in 1999.
The top lot of the evening was “Blackie,” the black and white composite Fender Stratocaster that served as Clapton’s sole stage and studio guitar from 1970 till 1985. Blackie, offered with a $100/150,000 estimate, was sold for $959,500, becoming the most expensive guitar ever to have been sold at auction. Proceeds of the sale will benefit Crossroads Centre in Antigua, an addiction treatment center established by Clapton in 1998.
Upon hearing the results of the auction, Clapton, who is currently touring the country, commented: “I am thrilled at the result which is going to be of enormous help to us in achieving our long term aims at the center. On behalf of myself, but above all on behalf of all the future clients who will benefit from the enhanced facilities at the center, I want to say a big ‘thank you.'”
Clapton expressed tremendous affection for this guitar, and had an intense working relationship with Blackie throughout the 1970s and early 1980s. The first copy of the “Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster,” modeled after Blackie and extensively used by Clapton from 1990 onwards was bought for $231,500 against an estimate of $8/12,000.
A credible rival to Blackie in stellar ranking was Clapton’s 1964 cherry-red Gibson ES-335 that carried a presale estimate of $60/80,000. This famous Gibson is the second electric guitar Clapton ever bought, and the one he was the most sentimental about. Clapton used this guitar throughout his career, from his time with the Yardbirds until today. The Gibson was offered with its case, which had “Cream” and the initials “EC G ES” stenciled in white paint on the exterior. The intense bidding war sent shocks of excrdf_Descriptionent through the room and when the hammer finally came down the price had soared to $847,500, a world auction record for any Gibson guitar.
The instrument that changed the role of the acoustic guitar in rock music forever was the 1939, 000-42 Martin Clapton played on the Unplugged album. Against a $60/80,000 estimate, it sold for $791,500, a world auction record for any Martin guitar.
From the group of guitars donated by musician friends was “Lenny,” the Fender Stratocaster Stevie Ray Vaughan played from the 1970s until his tragic death in 1990.
The guitar was donated by Stevie Ray Vaughan’s brother, Jimmie, and is the only personal guitar from Vaughn to have been released from the estate. It sold after competitive bidding for $623,500, the second highest price ever realized at auction for a Fender Stratocaster.
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