David Gilmour guitar auction achieves the highest total for a musical instrument auction

Christie's David Gilmour Guitar Collection, the largest and most comprehensive sale of guitars, was 100% sold and totaled $21,490,750, becoming the most valuable musical instruments sale in auction history.
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 Gemma Sudlow, Auctioneer and Head of Private & Iconic Collections auctions ‘The Black Strat’ (displayed) for $3,975,000. Photo courtesy of Christie’s.

Gemma Sudlow, Auctioneer and Head of Private & Iconic Collections auctions ‘The Black Strat’ (displayed) for $3,975,000. Photo courtesy of Christie’s.

New York – In a packed sale room with a record number of online bidders, The David Gilmour Guitar Collection, the largest and most comprehensive sale of guitars, was 100% sold and totaled $21,490,750 / £16,935,185/ €19,035,147, becoming the most valuable musical instruments sale in auction history. Leading the collection of 126 guitars was the iconic 1969 Black Fender Stratocaster, which achieved $3,975,000, setting a world auction record for any guitar. The iconic ‘Black Strat’ was Gilmour’s primary performance and recording instrument integral to recording many Pink Floyd’s greatest albums including The WallWish You Were Here, and Dark Side of The Moon, as well as his solo albums. The proceeds from the auction will be donated to the charity ClientEarth.

 THE BLACK STRAT. Estimated: $100,000-150,000. Sold for: $3,975,000

THE BLACK STRAT. Estimated: $100,000-150,000. Sold for: $3,975,000

David Gilmour provided a statement the day before the auctionThe global climate crisis is the greatest challenge that humanity will ever face, and we are within a few years of the effects of global warming being irreversible. As Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist said in a speech earlier this year “Either we choose to go on as a civilisation, or we don’t”. The choice really is that simple, and I hope that the sale of these guitars will help ClientEarth in their cause to use the law to bring about real change. We need a civilised world that goes on for all our grandchildren and beyond in which these guitars can be played and songs can be sung.”

ClientEarth CEO James Thornton said: “This is a truly humbling and extraordinary gift, which goes beyond our wildest expectations. It’s difficult to express just how deeply grateful we are to David for choosing ClientEarth as the beneficiary of this historic auction. The law is one of the most powerful tools we have to tackle the world’s increasing environmental problems. This gift is a phenomenal boost to our work using the law to tackle climate change and protect nature. It will allow us to play an even greater role in addressing the climate crisis and securing a healthy planet for future generations.”

In the months leading up to the auction, over 12,000 fans booked hour-long time slots at the tour stops in London, Los Angeles and New York to get up-close to the guitars. In excess of 500,000 people viewed the content around the sale on Christies.com, and more than 2,000 bidders from 66 countries registered for the sale. 97 percent of all guitars in the sale were sold to or directly underbid by online registrants. 38 percent of the lots were purchased by online bidders.

After delaying the start of the sale one hour to accommodate the unprecedented number of bidders who queued around the block in Rockefeller Center to witness auction history, the sale quickly set records when lot 2, Gilmour’s Martin D-35 sold for $1,095,000 — a new world auction record for a C.F. Martin guitar. Estimated at $10,000-20,000, this acoustic guitar was immortalized in the legendary Pink Floyd tracks Wish You Were Here and Shine on You Crazy Diamond.

Top lots included the 1954 White Fender Stratocaster #0001 (estimate: $100,000-150,000), which was used on several recordings, including Another Brick in the Wall (Parts 2 and 3).The guitar sold for $1,815,000, which was a new world record for a Fender Stratocaster until hours later the record was smashed again by the ‘Black Strat.’

Additional auction records included a 1955 Gibson Les Paul, famous for Gilmour’s guitar solo on Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)Estimated at $30,000-50,000, it sold for $447,000, a new auction record for a Gibson Les Paul. An incredibly rare Gretsch White Penguin 6134 purchased by Gilmour in 1980 for his private collection, also realized $447,000 — a new auction record for a Gretsch.

 David Gilmour playing ‘The Black Strat’ (at left) for the ‘Live At Abbey Road’ series, 29th August 2006 (Photo: Polly Samson/Courtesy of Christie's) and (at right) with Pink Floyd, live at Earls Court, London, 19th May 1973 (Photo: Jill Furmanovsky/Courtesy of Christie's).

David Gilmour playing ‘The Black Strat’ (at left) for the ‘Live At Abbey Road’ series, 29th August 2006 (Photo: Polly Samson/Courtesy of Christie's) and (at right) with Pink Floyd, live at Earls Court, London, 19th May 1973 (Photo: Jill Furmanovsky/Courtesy of Christie's).

Kerry Keane, Christie’s Musical Instruments Specialist, commented“David Gilmour’s music and performance is indelibly burned into the soundtrack of our popular culture. The outpouring of excitement leading up the sale and today’s extraordinary results speaks volumes to his appeal as an artist and as a man of the world, one who has a committed philanthropic mission that supports humanity globally.”

Julia Delves Broughton, Christie’s Chairman’s office, statedThis sale truly exceeded all our hopes and expectations. Christie’s opened its doors this morning to over 900 people who came to bid and watch the sale. We are delighted that David Gilmour has decided to donate all sale proceeds to charitable causes and would like to thank everyone for their very generous bids.”

Final Note: The previous record for collection of musical instruments was Eric Clapton’s guitar collection which sold in 1999 ($5,072,350) and in 2004 ($7,438,624), realizing $12,510,974 in total.