Black Beauty: Les Paul’s original Gibson Les Paul Guitar goes up for auction

The “Black Beauty” prototype, owned by Les Paul himself, will go under the hammer in New York in February

Electric guitar fanatics, step forward: the original model of the Gibson Les Paul guitar is headed for auction on 19 February in New York. The archetypal “Black Beauty” solid-body guitar, which belonged to lauded guitarist and luthier Paul, is due to be sold by auction house Guernsey’s at Arader Galleries, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Paul owned this first, all-black, gold-detailed Gibson from 1954 until 1976, before handing it over to friend and fellow instrument maker Tom Doyle. Doyle is auctioning the Gibson from his own private collection, alongside an original model of Chet Atkins’s Gretsch electric guitar, known as “Dark Eyes”.

The Les Paul has earned a reputation as the guitar of choice for rock, blues and reggae greats, played by Slash, Bob Marley, the Who’s Pete Townsend, Jimmy Page, Peter Green and many more.

Typically, a custom Les Paul retails for between £2,000 ($3,000) and £8,600 ($13,000) on Gibson’s official website. In the world of auctioned guitars, prices multiply considerably.

The highest price to date for a guitar was approximately £641,600 ($965,000),fetched in 2013 by the Bob Dylan Fender Stratocaster from his famously controversial performance at the 1965 Newport folk festival. Before that, the record for the highest amount paid for an electric guitar at auction was held by Eric Clapton’s “Blackie” Fender Stratocaster, which was sold for £637,355 ($959,000) in 20014.

Rock memorabilia is big business at the moment. In June 2014, Bob Dylan’s handwritten manuscript for the lyrics of Like a Rolling Stone sold for $2.045m at Sotheby’s in New York.

According to a Guernsey’s spokeswoman, speaking to the Los Angeles Times, no pre-auction estimate has been set for the Gibson Les Paul prototype. Further information on all the items up for auction is due on Guernsey’s site later this month.

Thanks to the Guardian website for this article

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