One of the greatest legends in rock music shoved aside another legend, Eric Clapton, to claim the title as the man behind the most expensive guitar ever auctioned.
"Bob Dylan’s sunburst Fender Stratocaster, first unsheathed at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, sold at auction for a record-breaking $965,000 on Friday," Rolling Stone reports. "Dropping nearly a cool million on an axe might seem excessive, but this guitar is one of the most iconic instruments in music history. Dylan’s three-song Newport performance is the stuff of legend: Many folk diehards booed the set, viewing the switch to amplified rock as a sell-out (and labeling Dylan a traitor to the folk movement)."
Dylan went on to prove his detractors wrong, by most accounts, using the amped-up sound of the electric guitar to help broaden the audience for lyrically meaningful music — and eventually bringing the rest of the pop music world along with him.
"Despite the historical importance of the instrument, Christie’s auction house wasn’t expecting such a massive price: pre-auction estimates for the guitar (which also included the original leather strap and hardshell case) were between $300,000 and $500,000," Rolling Stone notes. "Within the case itself was another hidden gem: early-draft lyrics to [four] Dylan tunes (‘Absolutely Sweet Marie,’ ‘I Wanna Be Your Lover’ and two others). Those pieces were estimated between $3,000 and $30,000 by the auction house."
Dylan’s Strat becomes the most expensive guitar ever auctioned, taking over the title from Clapton’s "Blackie," which sold for $959,500 in 2004.
The report adds: "The buyer of Dylan’s Stratocaster remains unnamed for now, but the story of its prior ownership is fascinating: Dylan left the guitar on a private plane, and when the pilot notified the songwriter’s management, he never received a response. The Strat has remained in the pilot’s family for nearly 50 years, and it was authenticated last year when his daughter, Dawn Peterson, brought it on the PBS program ‘History Detectives.’"
That program sparked a controversy over ownership of the guitar, as we reported last year. The dispute was reportedly recently settled out of court.