Entertainment News

  • 9 December 2013, 6:05

Dylan's Electric Guitar Sets Auction Record

The guitar that Bob Dylan plugged in when he famously went electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival sold at auction for a record $965,000 (590,000).

Christie's did not immediately identify the absentee buyer of the sunburst Fender Stratocaster, which it said had gone for the highest price ever paid for a guitar at auction.

The festival performance cemented Dylan's move from acoustic folk to electric rock 'n' roll.

Now viewed as a defining moment that irrevocably changed American music, the raucous, three-song electric set at the Rhode Island festival was met with boos from some in the crowd, and folk purists saw Dylan as a traitor and a sellout.

The presale estimate by Christie's for the guitar, which was sold with its original black leather strap and Fender hard shell case, had been $300,000 (183,000) to $500,000 (306,000).

The previous record for a guitar sold at auction was held by Eric Clapton's Fender, nicknamed Blackie, which sold at Christie's for $959,500 (587,000) in 2004.

With a classic sunburst finish and original flat-wound strings, Dylan's guitar had been in the possession of a New Jersey family for nearly 50 years. Dylan left it on a private plane.

The pilot's daughter, Dawn Peterson of Morris County, New Jersey, said her father asked Dylan's management company what to do with the guitar, but nobody ever got back to him.

Last year, she took it to the PBS show History Detectives to have it authenticated, and experts matched the wood grain on the instrument to close-up colour photos of the guitar taken at the 1965 festival.

Dylan's attorney and his publicist didn't respond to email and phone requests for comment. Dylan and Peterson, who declined to be interviewed, recently settled a legal dispute over the items. The terms weren't disclosed.

Christie's is also offering five lots of hand and typewritten lyric fragments found inside the guitar case - early versions of some of Dylan's songs.

The lyrics included an early draft of Absolutely Sweet Marie from Dylan's Blonde on Blonde album, and three songs from the record's 1965 recording session that weren't released until the 1980s. Among them was I Wanna Be Your Lover.

:: Watch Sky News live on television, on Sky channel 501, Virgin Media channel 602 and Freeview channel 82.

Get Adobe Flash player
Advertisement