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Clapton's Guitars and Amps Sell at Auction for High Price Tags

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Wednesday afternoon, a selection of amps, guitars and other memorabilia from rock star Eric Clapton's personal collection were auctioned off at Bonhams in Manhattan to a room chock-full of fans of the English rock icon. Guitars and amps, which had starting prices that ranged from $300 to $30,000, sold for more than the auction house expected.

A guitars for sale at Bonhams.

"The estimates were a little bit on the conservative side in much of the lots and they've obviously made several times what the estimates expected," said Stephanie Connell of Bonhams. "Some of the prices have come as a really great surprise."

The most surprising sale early on was a 1979 three-quarter size acoustic guitar made by Danny Ferrington, which went for an astounding $42,700, 100 times more than the expected price tag, according to the London-based firm Wallace & Hodgson who organized the auction with Bonhams.

Auctioneer Jon Baddeley prefaced the sale of the '79 axe with these words from Ferrington: "Eric loved this guitar. He said he liked the look of carrying it around and getting off and on an airplane with it."

Many of the guitars up for auction are only five or six years old, like the 2005 custom-built black Fender Stratocaster that Clapton played during his Cream-reunion concerts. This was the first time Clapton offered up his vintage amplifier collection for sale, which included a mid-1960s Supro S6698 'Sportsman,' the same model used by Jimmy Page on the Led Zeppelin II album. The amp sold for $28,060.

Matt Umanov, who owns Matt Umanov's Guitars, a guitar shop in Greenwich Village, says people pay top dollar for guitars at auction because they want to own a piece of a star like Clapton. "Allegedly and ostensibly, each one has some of his DNA on it," Umanov said. "People are dying to own that."

This is the third time that Clapton has auctioned off part of his musical collection to the public. Proceeds of the sale aimed to support the Crossroads Center, a drug and alcohol center founded by Clapton in Antigua.

Updated 10:45 P.M.

This 1960s Supro S6698 Sportsman amp sold for $28,060 at auction on Wednesday.
Julia Botero/WNYC
This 1960s Supro S6698 Sportsman amp sold for $28,060 at auction on Wednesday.
Eric Clapton's guitars sold for more than estimated at Bonhams on March 9.
Julia Botero/WNYC
Eric Clapton's guitars sold for more than estimated at Bonhams on March 9.

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Comments [1]

Mariann from Spring Lk, NC

It is sad that only wealthy people can own that DNA, or have many special things like that in their life. Yet others can collect them.
I know a guy who is poor, but he writes the sweetest poetry on this planet, and plays awesome guitar and writes music so beautifully (he has 3 books out) He has the sweetest voice too, and I somehow know he would be big if he didn't have mental illness causing him to have horrible panic attacks/fears, so bad that he can not ride in a car even 90% of the time, and we have to pull over now and then and not go far. But I am sure he will read about this tomorrow when he wakes up and can only sigh. He lost his whole family to illness, which was his mom and grandma.
And here I am a 100% disabled veteran (older female, not attractive at all), and he came here to help care for me since he can not work outside with his condition(and he lost his lifetime home and probably the only job he could have handled), and I had noone to help me nomatter how much I prayed. My parents are very old and not well either, and when they die soon, I will be pretty much be alone in this world.
Anyhow, my friend Bob loves to read, so I give him room, necessities, and board, and buy him books which he loves to read. I also play some guitar and write, so I guess I relate to him that way. I would have done anything to get him a guitar by Clampton (I am greatful to him for helping me not have to live in a nursing home), but there is no way I can affford one, as my uncovered medical care expenses are too great, so all we can do is watch and sigh,...and dream.

Mar. 14 2011 01:14 AM

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