Guitar played by John Lennon and George Harrison fetches $2.9 million at auction

Jack Guy, CNN | 5/30/2024, 1:41 p.m.
A 12-string guitar played by Beatles stars John Lennon and George Harrison and thought to have been lost for almost …
Lennon pictured in December 1963. Mandatory Credit: ITV/Shutterstock via CNN Newsource

 A 12-string guitar played by Beatles stars John Lennon and George Harrison and thought to have been lost for almost 60 years has sold at auction for a whopping $2.9 million.

The acoustic Framus “Hootenanny” was used by the band in 1965, featuring in recordings, sessions and performances of songs including “Help!” “You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away” and “It’s Only Love,” according to California-based auction house Julien’s Auctions. It has set a new world record for the most expensive Beatles guitar ever sold — a title previously held by a 1962 Gibson J-160E, which Lennon used to record ”I Want to Hold Your Hand” and other early Beatles hits, which sold for $2.4 million at Julien’s in November 2015.

Lennon gave the acoustic guitar to a friend, who passed it on to someone “who took the guitar home, tossed it in the attic, and gave it nary a thought for decades,” the auction house said in a statement published in April.

The guitar, manufactured in Germany, has a spruce top, mahogany back and sides and a 19-fret rosewood fretboard, said the auction house, which worked with Beatles expert Andy Babiuk to confirm its authenticity.

“It has some distinctive markings which made it easily identifiable,” said the auction house, but “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,” it said.

“Like an audio time capsule from 1965, the Framus is a direct link to those records.”

When it was found, the guitar was in such a bad state that it wasn’t playable, according to the auction house, which decided to restore it.

Julien’s entrusted the job to Ryan Schuermann of LA Guitar Repair, who “performed a masterful neck reset that’s nearly undetectable, a beautiful repair of the top, steam and heat treatment of the bridge… all to ensure the Hootenanny would be playable not just for now, but for decades to come.”

The guitar went under the hammer as part of Julien’s Auctions “Music Icons” event, which took place at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City on May 29-30.