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John Lennon’s ‘Love Me Do’ Guitar Sells for Record $2.4 Million

Beatles’ ‘Ed Sullivan Show’ drumhead, Kurt Cobain’s ‘MTV Unplugged’ cardigan also far exceed pre-auction estimates

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Daniel Kreps Nov 09, 2015
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John Lennon’s acoustic Gibson sold for a record-breaking $2.4 million at auction. Photo: Courtesy of Julien’s Live

John Lennon’s long-lost acoustic Gibson J-160E, used in the recording of the Beatles’ Please Please Me and With the Beatles LPs, shattered all estimates Saturday on the Julien’s Live auction block, as the instrument sold for $2.41 million, a record for a guitar with music history significance. Lennon purchased the Gibson at Rushworth’s Music House in Liverpool in September 1962 for £161. The guitar, which was lost for over 40 years, sold for three times its $800,000 estimate to an unspecified buyer who asked to remain anonymous.

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Half of the proceeds from the sale of Lennon’s Gibson will go towards the Spirit Foundation, a charitable organization that he and Yoko Ono formed.

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The band’s Beatles-emblazoned Ludwig bass drumhead. Photo: Courtesy of Julien’s Live

Lennon’s acoustic Gibson wasn’t the only Beatles-related item to far exceed expectations: The band’s Beatles-emblazoned Ludwig bass drumhead, used by Ringo Starr during the Beatles’ February 9th, 1964 debut on The Ed Sullivan Show, sold for $2.125 million, more than doubling its $1 million estimate. The drumhead was also used at the Beatles’ first U.S. concert at Washington Coliseum on February 11th, 1964 as well as other stops along the Beatles’ inaugural North American visit. A baseball signed by all four Beatles in 1966 also sold for $100,000.

Another significant item on the auction block ”“ Kurt Cobain’s green cardigan, worn by the singer during Nirvana’s legendary MTV Unplugged performance ”“ more than doubled its $60,000 estimate. That well-worn Manhattan brand sweater, featuring discoloration and a missing button, sold for $137,500.

Elvis Presley’s 24K gold leaf piano, a staple of the rocker’s Graceland estate, also sold for $600,000.

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