John Lennon’s Iconic ‘Help!’ Guitar Fetches a Record $2.9M at Auction

In a remarkable display of its historic value, John Lennon’s iconic “Help!” guitar shattered records on Wednesday, becoming the most expensive Beatles guitar ever auctioned. The Framus Hootenanny, a key piece in music history, was sold for an impressive $2.86 million during Julien’s Music Icons sale, held over two days at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York. This sale surpassed the previous record held by Lennon’s J-160E Gibson, which fetched $2.41 million in 2015. Initially estimated to attract bids between $600,000 and $800,000, the guitar far exceeded expectations, selling to a telephone bidder for nearly three times its high estimate.

Julien’s Auctions CEO David Goodman expressed immense pride and honor in setting a new world record with the auction of Lennon’s treasured guitar, highlighting its significance as a testament to Lennon’s lasting legacy. The 12-string acoustic guitar, crafted by German manufacturer Framus in the early 1960s and purchased by Lennon in late 1964, played a pivotal role in the Beatles’ “Help!” recording sessions in 1965. It contributed to the soundtracks of timeless Beatles songs such as “You’ve Got to Hide Your Love Away,” and “Help!”, and was also played by George Harrison on “Norwegian Wood.” The guitar, which also appeared in several scenes of the 1965 film “Help!”, was later owned by Gordon Waller of Peter and Gordon before disappearing for decades, only to be rediscovered in a British attic by its current owners who then approached Julien’s.

The auction’s first day was a resounding success, generating $6 million in sales, triple what Julien’s had anticipated, with a 98.5 percent sell-through rate. Highlights from the auction included items from the Julian Lennon Collection, which alone brought in over $570,000, featuring Beatles gold records and a “Yellow Submarine” animation cel. Other notable sales included a Dolly Parton guitar for $10,400, a Rolling Stones print for $16,250, and an Eric Clapton guitar for $101,600.

The auction continued with more music memorabilia connected to legendary artists like Prince, Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, and U2, promising the possibility of more record-breaking sales.