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Press Release - November 18, 2010

Gibson and Fender electric guitars dominate $1.2 million Heritage guitar auction in Beverly Hills

Almost 500 rare examples of big name instruments satisfy wide collector demand in Nov. 13 Fine & Vintage Guitar & Stringed Instruments auction

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – Having clearly hit upon a need among guitar collectors, Heritage Auctions realized stellar prices and near-perfect sell- through rates on the $1.2 Million Fine and Vintage Guitar and Stringed Instrument portion of its Saturday, Nov. 13 Music & Entertainment Auction in Beverly Hills. All prices include 19.5% Buyer’s Premium.

The section, which saw celebrity rock-and-roll guitarists and some of the nation’s top dealers and collectors in the audience – as well as participating live online via Heritage LIVE!™, the company’s proprietary live Internet bidding platform – bidding on almost 500 guitars sold 99.5% by value and 98.7% by lot, numbers that exceeded in-house expectations.

“We knew from our July guitar auction that we were on to something desired in this industry,” said Mike Gutierrez, Consignment Director for Heritage. “This is a market that has been traditionally dominated by music stores and dealers. As we saw, however, with almost 900 bidders competing for this stunning array of instruments, quality sells, and sells very well.”

Two names reigned supreme with collectors throughout the auction: Gibson and Fender, with a choice Gibson 1961 ES-335 Cherry guitar, #16858, with its original hard case, leading the way with a $25,095 final price.

“Everything about this guitar says ‘classic,’” said Gutierrez. “It wasn’t a surprise that it was the top offering of the day, or that it brought some of the most spirited bidding of the whole auction. A smart collector took this beauty home.”

The top Gibson in the auction came in the form of a classic 1958 ES 335 Sunburst Electric, #A27626. This very nice unbound 335, in superb condition, with great neck angle, boasts 100% of its original make and its original hard-shell case, bringing it to a final resting price of $23,900. That $23,900 price was equaled by a 1962 Fender Stratocaster Sunburst Electric, #86021, a near perfect example of an early 1960s Strat that was nearly flawless in all respects.

“Talk about a true time capsule piece,” said Gutierrez. “It has all its tags and is accompanied by the original sales receipt. The words ‘museum quality’ come to mind in the presence of a guitar like this one.”

Fender Stratocaster Sunburst guitars were easily the most popular overall make of the auction, with fully five – including the one above – of the top 10 lots in the section being one of these well-loved instruments. Among these were a 1958 Fender Stratocaster Sunburst Guitar, #26872, with original paint, that realized $22,705; a 1957 Fender Stratocaster Sunburst Electric Guitar, #17316, all original, that went for $19,120; a 1964 Fender Stratocaster Sunburst Guitar, #L46453, 100% original, which finished at $18,523, and a 1961 Fender Stratocaster Sunburst Guitar, #69639, that rose to $15,535 to finish.

“Direct sales of Fender guitars by dealers and in shops have slumped in the last few years,” said Gutierrez, “but the prices realized in this auction would seem to indicate otherwise when these guitars come to auction. It seems as though Heritage is reaching the end buyers, and then some, in a way direct sales are struggling to do.”

When it comes to acoustic guitars there is, perhaps, no name more coveted than that of Martin, and the superb examples in the auction brought out the competitive spirit in collectors looking for one of this masterpieces. A 1940 Martin D-18 Natural Acoustic Guitar, #75667, 100% original, was the top acoustic of the sale, bringing $17,925, while a 1955 Martin D-28 Natural Acoustic Guitar, #147141, realized $13,145 and a 1935 Martin 000-28 Natural Guitar, #61677 – a rare example of this important guitar – brought $13,145.

Further highlights of the section included a 1965 Gibson Firebird VII Sunburst Electric Guitar, #256742, which realized $19,120, a 1956 Gibson Les Paul Standard All Gold Electric Guitar, #63899, with the rare wrap-around tailpiece, which was discontinued in 1955 when the Tune-O-Matic Bridge version was introduced, that brought $17,328, and the 1960 Fender Precision Bass owned and played by legendary “slap” bassist and Elvis Presley band member Bill Black, which finished the day at $10,158.

Heritage Auctions, headed by Steve Ivy, Jim Halperin and Greg Rohan, is the world’s third largest auction house, with annual sales more than $600 million, and 500,000+ registered online bidder members. For more information about Heritage Auctions, and to join and gain access to a complete record of prices realized, along with full-color, enlargeable photos of each lot, please visit

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