Collectibles

Prince, Kurt Cobain, Bill Wyman, Brian Jones guitars head to auction

Prince, Kurt Cobain, Bill Wyma...
The Julien's catalogues for the Kurt Cobain sale and the Prince Sale
The Julien's catalogues for the Kurt Cobain sale and the Prince Sale
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The Julien's catalogues for the Kurt Cobain sale and the Prince Sale
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The Julien's catalogues for the Kurt Cobain sale and the Prince Sale
This guitar was used as Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar from 1984 to 1993.
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This guitar was used as Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar from 1984 to 1993.
Prince’s Clouds guitar undergoes a CAT (computerized tomography) scan so that Julien's auctions can look under the surface of the guitar and understand its history by taking cross-sectional images of the body of the guitar.
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Prince’s Clouds guitar undergoes a CAT (computerized tomography) scan so that Julien's auctions can look under the surface of the guitar and understand its history by taking cross-sectional images of the body of the guitar.
Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar from 1984 to 1993 was repainted and refinished many times, and a little excavation under the paint shows the many prior colors. The "peach" color was used during the 1987 “Sign o’ the Times” tour.
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Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar from 1984 to 1993 was repainted and refinished many times, and a little excavation under the paint shows the many prior colors. The "peach" color was used during the 1987 “Sign o’ the Times” tour.
This guitar was used as Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar from 1984 to 1993.
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This guitar was used as Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar from 1984 to 1993.
CAT scans confirmed that the Cloud guitar was indeed the lost Cloud2 guitar that had been Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar from 1984 to 1993.
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CAT scans confirmed that the Cloud guitar was indeed the lost Cloud2 guitar that had been Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar from 1984 to 1993.
This guitar was used as Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar from 1984 to 1993.
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This guitar was used as Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar from 1984 to 1993.
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Brian Jones 1968 Gibson Les Paul Standard Model Gold Top
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Brian Jones 1968 Gibson Les Paul Standard Model Gold Top
Bill Wyman's 1969 Fender Mustang Bass Competition Orange finish serial
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Bill Wyman's 1969 Fender Mustang Bass Competition Orange finish serial
Bill Wyman's 1965 VOX ‘Wyman Bass’ Model Teardrop Bass Guitar
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Bill Wyman's 1965 VOX ‘Wyman Bass’ Model Teardrop Bass Guitar
Bill Wyman's 1981 Steinberger Custom Short-Scale XL-Series Bass
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Bill Wyman's 1981 Steinberger Custom Short-Scale XL-Series Bass
Bill Wyman's 1978 Travis Bean Custom Short Scale Bass
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Bill Wyman's 1978 Travis Bean Custom Short Scale Bass
Bill Wyman's 1974 Dan Armstrong Prototype Bass – repainted gold
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Bill Wyman's 1974 Dan Armstrong Prototype Bass – repainted gold
Bill Wyman's Early 1960’s Framus Star Bass model 5/150 Black Rose Sunburst Finish
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Bill Wyman's Early 1960’s Framus Star Bass model 5/150 Black Rose Sunburst Finish
1962 VOX AC30 ‘Normal’ model amplifier, serial number 5048N
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1962 VOX AC30 ‘Normal’ model amplifier, serial number 5048N
Bill Wyman's collection is massive and extremely well catalogued - that's a three-volume auction catalogue - and it is likely that there will be untold treasure available at the auction
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Bill Wyman's collection is massive and extremely well catalogued - that's a three-volume auction catalogue - and it is likely that there will be untold treasure available at the auction
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Only eight guitars have ever sold for more than $1.0 million dollars at auction, four of them selling last year, along with another 20 that sold for more than $200,000 and moved into the top 100.

We're expecting another one, maybe two, maybe even three guitars to sell for more than a million dollars in the next few months, despite the global pandemic.

Half a dozen guitars used by Kurt Cobain, Prince and the Rolling Stones' Bill Wyman and Brian Jones are crossing the auction block over the next few months and they will almost certainly all push their way into the top 100 most valuable guitars if they meet the reserve price.

Prince’s Cloud2 Blue Angel "Purple Rain" guitar

After the guitar’s auction was announced, Julien's auctions was contacted by John Woodland, who performs conservation work on Prince’s guitars and had been searching for the mythic “blue angel” guitar. Woodland is currently collaborating on researching and writing a book on all original Cloud guitars with former Knut Koupeé Music employee Gerald Ronning. Once Woodland had confirmed some of the modifications history of the guitar, Julien's set about finding out whether this was indeed, the long-lost Cloud2 guitar.

Prince’s Clouds guitar undergoes a CAT (computerized tomography) scan so that Julien's auctions can look under the surface of the guitar and understand its history by taking cross-sectional images of the body of the guitar.
Prince’s Clouds guitar undergoes a CAT (computerized tomography) scan so that Julien's auctions can look under the surface of the guitar and understand its history by taking cross-sectional images of the body of the guitar.

Following discussions with Woodland, Hollywood-based Julien’s Auctions used Westside Medical Imaging in Beverly Hills to run a series of CT scans on the Prince guitar in order to see beneath the surface details of the instrument.

CAT scans confirmed that the Cloud guitar was indeed the lost Cloud2 guitar that had been Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar from 1984 to 1993.
CAT scans confirmed that the Cloud guitar was indeed the lost Cloud2 guitar that had been Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar from 1984 to 1993.

When the detective work was finished and the full history of Prince’s Blue Cloud guitar authenticated, it’s valuation changed from a $100,000 to a $600,000 and could easily go much higher, coming with a list of appearances at many notable Prince performances.

Between 1984 and 1993, this guitar was used on Prince's tours for Purple Rain (1984-1985), The Parade Tour (1986), Sign o’ the Times, (1987), Lovesexy, (1988-1989) and Diamonds and Pearls(1992), Saturday Night Live’s 15th Anniversary Special, (September 24th, 1989), the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, the 1991 appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show in a 20-minute set that included his performances of “Let’s Go Crazy”, “Cream,” and “Purple Rain,” music videos for “Get Off” and “Cream,” as well as photo appearances on the covers of Spin magazine (September 1991) and the film poster for the 1987 music documentary Sign o’ The Times.

Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar from 1984 to 1993 was repainted and refinished many times, and a little excavation under the paint shows the many prior colors. The "peach" color was used during the 1987 “Sign o’ the Times” tour.
Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar from 1984 to 1993 was repainted and refinished many times, and a little excavation under the paint shows the many prior colors. The "peach" color was used during the 1987 “Sign o’ the Times” tour.

Originally white, the guitar has been painted and refinished a number of times in peach, light blue, yellow then again in white before its current electric blue color. Forensic examination of the guitar showed the previous color schemes, authenticating it as the guitar at the centre of Prince’s world for a decade.

The value of a guitar is largely determined by the company it has kept. There are not many guitars even of heirloom quality that have pushed their way into the top 100 guitars of all-time without a spectacular provenance – around 10 of the guitars in our top 100 have no provenance other than their exquisite craftsmanship. The other 90 have the provenance of one or more of the guitar gods. Hence Prince's guitar may become one of the very few to fetch more than a million.

Kurt Cobain’s MTV unplugged Martin D-18

The value of Kurt Cobain’s MTV unplugged Martin D-18 will almost certainly extend well past the million dollar mark, with the official estimate set at between $1.0 and $2.0 million. If it reaches its low estimate, it will become one of the 10 most valuable guitars ever sold at auction. If it reaches its high estimate, it will be second in value only to Dave Gilmour's Black Strat, the guitar best known for "Comfortably Numb".

Kurt Cobain’s MTV Unplugged appearance was one of the most-watched and most admired individual musical performances of all-time. Cobain played this 1959 Martin D-18E in what would become Nirvana’s most important and public performance on November 18, 1993, approximately five months before his death. Cobain's guitar mastery that day using this guitar was clearly evident.

The versions of Nirvana's songs played on MTV Unplugged went on to invariably become the defining versions recognized by the fans: “About A Girl,” “All Apologies,” “Come As You Are,” and “Dumb,” as well as covers of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World,” The Meat Puppets’ “Lake of Fire,” and a haunting rendition of Lead Belly’s “Black Girl” renamed “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.”

MTV Unplugged debuted at number one on the U.S. Billboard charts and is consistently ranked among the top 10 live albums of all time. Nirvana’s flawless acoustic and vocal performance propelled the MTV Unplugged in New York album to multi-platinum certification and won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 1996.

It was the seventh of only 302 D-18Es built by Martin and was customized by Cobain who added a Bartolini pickup to the soundhole. In addition, the sale of the guitar comes with its original hard-shell case decorated by Cobain with a flyer from the punk rock band Poison Idea's 1990 album Feel the Darkness. Three baggage claim ticket stubs are attached to the handle, along with an Alaska Airlines sticker affixed to the case. The storage compartment of the case also contains Cobain’s half used pack of Martin guitar strings, three guitar picks, and his suede "stash" bag decorated with a miniature silver spoon, fork and knife.

The Bill Wyman Collection

Bill Wyman's collection is massive and extremely well catalogued - that's a three-volume auction catalogue - and it is likely that there will be untold treasure available at the auction
Bill Wyman's collection is massive and extremely well catalogued - that's a three-volume auction catalogue - and it is likely that there will be untold treasure available at the auction

Bill Wyman was the bass player of the Rolling Stones from 1962 until 1993 and unlike many of his contemporaries, Wyman catalogued and maintained an extensive collection of memorabilia which is going to auction at Julien's on September 13, 2020.

The auction was originally scheduled for May, but was postponed due to the Coronavirus-19 pandemic.

As depicted in the 2019 documentary film about the life and career of Wyman, The Quiet One, this archive also includes a wide range of property including never before seen archival material, equipment, ephemera, merchandising, promotional materials, production artwork, photographs, correspondence, concert posters, records and other memorabilia.

“Collecting and archiving has been one of the great pleasures of my life and will undoubtedly be one of my legacies,” said Bill Wyman. “It feels like the right time to share my archive with the world. I hope people will get as much joy from my collections as I have.

“It is easier to let these items go knowing that a portion of the proceeds from this sale will support three causes that are close to my heart: The Prince’s Trust, Macmillan Cancer Support and CCMI (Central Caribbean Marine Institute) who are at the forefront of restoring the health of the world’s reefs and oceans.”

Brian Jones' guitar from his last appearance with the Rolling Stones

Brian Jones playing this 1960 Harmony Stratotone on stage with the Rolling Stones' first line up at the Marquee Club, Oxford Street, London in 1963. They certainly look like a bunch of clean cut lads these days but their long hair at the time was quite outrageous
Brian Jones playing this 1960 Harmony Stratotone on stage with the Rolling Stones' first line up at the Marquee Club, Oxford Street, London in 1963. They certainly look like a bunch of clean cut lads these days but their long hair at the time was quite outrageous

Brian Jones guitars rarely reach auction, with his 1960 Harmony Stratotone that sold at Christie’s in 2009 one of the exceptions. The guitar fetched £79,250 (US$130,824) at a time when guitars were selling for a whole lot less than they do today.

Jones’ 1968 Les Paul Gibson Gold Top Guitar and Case is estimated by Julien’s at between $200,000 and $300,000, but if the assertion that this is the guitar used by Brian Jones in the Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus on 11 December, 1968, then it quite possibly means that the $300,000 valuation might be a little modest, as that was Brian Jones' last appearance with the Rolling Stones; he drowned some seven months later while the film was being edited. Don't be surprised to see this guitar blow through its expectations.

Bill Wyman's Fender Competition Orange Mustang Bass

Bill Wyman's 1969 Fender Mustang Bass Competition Orange finish serial
Bill Wyman's 1969 Fender Mustang Bass Competition Orange finish serial

Julien's Auctions, September 12 & 13, 2020

Estimated: $300,000 to $500,000

Auction Description: Fender introduced the short-scale Mustang bass in 1966. It was the last bass designed by Leo Fender before he left the company. In 1969, Fender launched the Competition Mustang Bass, adding a special “competition” finish of racing stripes to the body. Wyman's Mustang bass has a “Competition Orange” finish with red racing stripes, Fender color code #510. This 30-inch short-scale Mustang bass has an alder wood body, a bolt-on maple neck, dot inlays on fingerboard, a chrome bridge with adjustable string mutes, a black Mustang split pickup mounted on a white pearloid pickguard, and an input jack and single volume and tone knobs mounted on a chrome faceplate. The strap button was moved to the short horn so that the bass was more comfortable for Bill to play with his strap. With original Fender Mustang case. Bill Wyman used this bass on Rolling Stones concerts and recordings 1969 and 1970. This bass was exhibited at the O2 Arena Rock Exhibition in 2010.

Brian Jones 1968 Les Paul Gibson Gold Top Guitar and Case

Brian Jones 1968 Gibson Les Paul Standard Model Gold Top
Brian Jones 1968 Gibson Les Paul Standard Model Gold Top

Julien's Auctions, September 12 & 13, 2020

Estimated: $200,000 to $300,000

Auction Description: 1968 Gibson Les Paul Standard Model Gold Top serial number 505542. This 1968 guitar, is the first year that Gibson reintroduced the replica of the 1956 Les Paul Gold Top. It has a maple top with gold finish and natural wood finish back and neck. The fingerboard has crown inlays and the serial number is stamped into the wood at the back of the peghead. The guitar was built with the small narrow width 1950's style headstock and three on a side Kluson Deluxe tuners, a chrome tuneomatic bridge, stop tailpiece, two cream cover P-90 pickups three way toggle switch and the gold volume and tone knobs. The original input jack has been changed and an additional strap button was installed on the back of the body. There is some checkering in the finish and a slight wood crack on the back heel of the neck. This guitar and vintage case were used by Brian Jones in the Rolling Stones’ Rock and Roll Circus December 1969 and on recordings. Also used briefly by the band Tucky Buzzard.

Bill Wyman's Travis Bean Custom Short Scale Bass

Bill Wyman's 1978 Travis Bean Custom Short Scale Bass
Bill Wyman's 1978 Travis Bean Custom Short Scale Bass

Julien's Auctions, September 12 & 13, 2020

Estimated: $200,000 to $300,000

Auction Description: 1978 Travis Bean Custom Short Scale Bass serial number 892. This bass was custom built for Bill Wyman in 1978 and engraved in the back “10-2-78 for Bill Wyman – Travis Bean”. It is built with a double-cutaway Koa body with a natural finish, aluminium neck with Rosewood fingerboard, nineteen frets, two Travis Bean bass pickups wired with volume and tone knobs for each, and a three-way toggle switch. Clifford Travis Bean was a California machinist and drummer, who patented an innovative design for guitars and basses with machined aluminium necks. He partnered with Gary Kramer and Marc McElwee in 1974 to produce Travis Bean Guitars and set up his factory in Sun Valley, California. This bass has additional strap buttons installed for Bill to use his guitar strap more comfortably. Bill Wyman used this bass for Rolling Stones recordings, videos and tours in 1978 and 1980’s.

Bill Wyman's Dan Armstrong Prototype Gold Bass

Bill Wyman's 1974 Dan Armstrong Prototype Bass – repainted gold
Bill Wyman's 1974 Dan Armstrong Prototype Bass – repainted gold

Julien's Auctions, September 12 & 13, 2020

Estimated: $100,000 to $200,000

Auction Description: 1974 Dan Armstrong Prototype Bass – repainted gold. This prototype double-cutaway bass (originally a wood grain finish) was built using a unique body shape quite unlike the later production models. The fingerboard has thumbnail inlays at the upper bass side and is fitted with two-on-a-side Schaller tuners and the Dan Armstrong name on the headstock (production models also had “London” silkscreened on the headstock). The bass was fitted with an aluminum wraparound top-tailpiece/bridge, an anodized aluminum pickguard, a movable single Dan Armstrong humbucking bass pickup, and wired with single volume and tone knobs. Bill Wyman tells about the prototype Dan Armstrong in 1978: “I’ve had a Dan Armstrong that I’ve used onstage since 1975. The first one [I had] was Plexiglas and incredibly heavy. We thought of ideas to lighten it, like drilling holes in it and still keeping it strong. In the end, Armstrong finally said, ‘Well, why don’t I make you a wooden one?’ So off he went, and he came back three or four months later and says, try this. It was quite good.” This bass has additional strap buttons installed for Bill to use his guitar strap more comfortably. This bass was used by Bill Wyman on May 1st, 1975 when The Rolling Stones played on a flat bed truck down 5th Avenue NYC and on The Rolling Stones 1975 -76 tour. This bass was later painted gold for a Bill Wyman solo video shoot and it was used during Wyman's 1981 Top Of The Pops performance of his hit single "Si Si Je Suis Un Rock Star."

Bill Wyman's Steinberger Custom Short-Scale XL-Series Bass in a black finish

Bill Wyman's 1981 Steinberger Custom Short-Scale XL-Series Bass
Bill Wyman's 1981 Steinberger Custom Short-Scale XL-Series Bass

Julien's Auctions, September 12 & 13, 2020

Estimated: $100,000 to $200,000

Auction Description: 1981 Steinberger Custom Short-Scale XL-Series Bass in a black finish. This is a special one of a kind bass built for Bill Wyman in a short scale by arrangement through Alan Rogan. Steinberger L-Series basses were all built with 24 frets. Bill’s Custom Steinberger has only 22 frets by eliminating the last two frets. Designed and manufactured by Ned Steinberger who was awarded "Design of the Decade" by the prestigious Designers Society of America for his creation of the XL bass, this Steinberger XL series basses was constructed from the STEINBERGER BLEND (TM), a reinforced composite material. The neck and body are modelled as one piece. The bass is fitted with EMG pickups and electronics with the unique Steinberger tuning bridge tailpiece. The bass has the cap from a Bic pen affixed to the top of the bass where the headstock would be, so that Bill could place a cigarette there while playing on stage. The bass includes its original road flight case and guitar strap from the Rolling Stones Tattoo You Tour. Bill Wyman used this bass onstage during the 1988 A.I.M.S. Gala concert at the Royal Albert Hall in London as well as with the Rolling Stones on their 1982 tour.

Bill Wyman's 1960s Framus Star Bass model 5/150 Black Rose Sunburst Finish

Bill Wyman's Early 1960’s Framus Star Bass model 5/150 Black Rose Sunburst Finish
Bill Wyman's Early 1960’s Framus Star Bass model 5/150 Black Rose Sunburst Finish

Julien's Auctions, September 12 & 13, 2020

Estimated: $80,000 to $100,000

Auction Description: This wide hollow body bass was built with a laminated wood sharp cutaway with an arched top and back. Inside one of the two ‘F’ holes is the factory label listing the 5/150 model and serial number. The bass has laminated natural finished neck with a bound rosewood fingerboard, dot inlays, zero-fret, two on a side original tuners and a ‘Framus’ logo on the headstock. The bass is fitted with two pickups and electronics all mounted to the metal black painted pickguard with the white ‘Framus’ Logo. It has an adjustable rosewood bridge and non-engraved “Star-Bass” tailpiece. Bill Wyman used this bass with The Rolling Stones in concerts and recording sessions in 1963 - 1965. This bass also displayed during The Rolling Stones ‘Exhibitionism’ touring museum.

1965 VOX ‘Wyman Bass’ Model Teardrop Bass Guitar

Bill Wyman's 1965 VOX ‘Wyman Bass’ Model Teardrop Bass Guitar
Bill Wyman's 1965 VOX ‘Wyman Bass’ Model Teardrop Bass Guitar

Julien's Auctions, September 12 & 13, 2020

Estimated: $40,000 to $60,000

Auction Description: This VOX “Wyman Bass” has a teardrop-shaped flame maple hollow body with a sunburst finish and a stylized Vox ƒ-hole, an adjustable metal bridge/ tailpiece, two control knobs, toggle switch and input jack are fitted on a chrome plate affixed to the face of the bass. The bass is fitted with a natural finished maple neck and a rosewood fingerboard with block inlays. The headstock is labeled “Wyman Bass”. Bill Wyman used this bass on Rolling Stones tours and recordings from 1966 through 1968.

Bill Wyman's 1962 VOX AC30 ‘Normal’ model amplifier

1962 VOX AC30 ‘Normal’ model amplifier, serial number 5048N
1962 VOX AC30 ‘Normal’ model amplifier, serial number 5048N

Julien's Auctions, September 12 & 13, 2020

Estimated: $80,000 to $100,000

Auction Description: This 1962 VOX AC30 ‘Normal’ model amplifier (serial number 5048N) was built at the Jennings Dartford Road factory in February of 1962. The amp is covered in the Fawn-colored Rexine with a brownish copper control panel and no Top Boost circuit. The 30-watt tube amp is fitted with a pair of Celestion 12 inch blue T.530 speakers. Two of the original leather side handles have been replaced with a pair of VOX SBU handles. The sticker inside the amp shows that the amp was serviced by Alan Pyne at 119 Dartford Road. This very important and historic amp is one of the reasons Bill Wyman was asked to join the Rolling Stone. Keith Richards - “Bill had amplifiers! Bill came fully equipped. A Vox AC-30 amplifier, which was beyond our means to possess. Built by Jennings in Dartford. We used to worship it. We used to look at it and get on our knees. To have an amplifier was crucial. First off, I just wanted to separate Bill from his amplifier. But that was before he started playing with Charlie.” This VOX AC30 was used extensively by The Rolling Stones.

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