Published: June 26, 2007
Bonhams & Butterfields’ May 8 auction of Grateful Dead memorabilia from the Ram Rod Shurtliff Collection fetched more than $1.1 million amid competitive bidding on telephones and in the crowded San Francisco auction room. The sale was 91 percent sold by lot.
Highlights include guitars played on stages and in-studio by Jerry Garcia, original art used on album covers and equipment and collectibles associated with the Grammy Award-winning band.
Lawrence “Ram Rod” Shurtliff, longtime road manager and president of the Grateful Dead’s corporation, died in 2006. The property on offer was consigned for sale by his son, Rudson Shurtliff.
The top lot of the auction was a circa 1975 Garcia electric guitar made by Travis Bean that has been seen in numerous photos, played on stages as well as in studio recording session. The cream-colored guitar sold for $312,000.
Spotlighted in the sale were Jerry Garcia-played instruments, including an electric guitar custom-made by noted San Francisco guitar maker Doug Irwin in 1971, known as “The Eagle,” that sold for $186,000. It was offered with its custom black leather case and several collector treasures: Garcia’s Vinci guitar strings, a tuning fork, a string winder and an unopened pack of Garcia’s cigarettes (Camel nonfilters). A buyer paid $102,000 for a Garcia acoustic guitar and $39,000 was paid for a Garcia Gibson electric, circa 1974.
Garcia’s circa 1973 stage-worn, tooled leather guitar strap by Nudie’s, “Western tailors to the stars,” sold for $20,400, quadrupling its estimate, while a flight case filled with Garcia’s picks, never-opened guitar strings and other accessories sold for $16,800.
A group of Bob Thomas original paintings created for the band’s album jacket Live/Dead , 1969, brought $87,000.
All prices reported include the buyer’s premium. For information, www.bonhams.com or 415-861-7500.
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