Musical collectibles: the story of the most precious instruments
The Beatles on stage with a Ludwig drums valued at over AU $ 3 million | Source: Block Club Chicago
Combine a few factors; its creator, quality, condition, famous provenance, age and rarity and chances are the vintage instruments in your garage’s top shelf could be an invaluable work of art. Musical instruments generate significant returns and icons such as the legendary Stradivarius violins present a unique investment opportunity.
George Gruhn, a Nashville, US-based guitar dealer, believes they might even offer safer long-term gains than traditional investments.
Musical instruments were great investments, so I now consider them to be far superior to money in the bank, especially at today’s interest rates, or in most stocks or mutual funds.
Here’s a look at the history of some of the most expensive musical instruments ever sold.
Eric Clapton’s Fender Stratocaster
Few guitarists achieve the iconic status of Eric Clapton. Fewer and fewer of their backing guitars came to the revered fame of their Fender Stratocaster, nicknamed “Blackie”. Clapton built the custom guitar using various parts from other Stratocasters, including a 1956 Stratocaster body and 1957 neck. His favorite guitar, Blackie, provided the music for many Clapton hits and in 2004 he l ‘sold for over A $ 1.3 million at a Christie’s auction to raise money for charity.
John Lennon Steinway Z Piano
If there is one characteristic that increases the value of an instrument, it is the importance of the character who owned and played it. In the musical world, that doesn’t get much more important than Beatles frontman John Lennon. This Steinway piano, purchased by Lennon in December 1970 for A $ 1,869 from Steinway & Sons in London, was used by the musician to compose the unforgettable song, To imagine.
When the instrument was auctioned in October 2000, notable bidders included Robbie Williams and brothers Liam and Noel Gallagher. Ultimately, the rare musical instrument was sold to George Michael for over A $ 2.7 million, becoming the highest price achieved for a piano at the time.
Blunt lady Stradivarius violin
The legendary violins built by Antonio Stradivari at the turn of the 18th century remain among the most valuable and expensive instruments in the world. With only around 650 of the instruments still in existence, this is a limited asset whose value is appreciating year after year. The “Lady Blunt” Stradivarius violin, made in 1721, is one of the best-preserved Stradivari-built violins in existence and therefore expensive. The record violin was sold at Sotheby’s in 1971 for a record amount of A $ 156,178. Forty years later, in 2011, the same violin was sold for A $ 22.3 million, again setting a new world record.
MacDonald Stradivarius alto
Antonio Stradivari was known to have created other famous stringed instruments, including the smaller viola. Made in 1719 around a period considered to be the Golden Period of the Stradivarius, the instrument is believed to be one of 10 Stradivarius violas intact today. In 2014, the prized viola went up for auction with a minimum bid of over A $ 62 million, but unfortunately failed to find a buyer.
The Fender Stratocaster “Reach Out to Asia”
To call this rare Fender Stratocaster guitar would be an understatement. This unique piece is signed by legendary musical personalities such as Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Bryan Adams, Keith Richards, Mick Jagger and Brian May. It was then auctioned off in 2005 by the charity “Reach Out to Asia” in Qatar for the benefit of the victims of the tsunami in the Indian Ocean. It grossed over A $ 3.7 million, becoming the most expensive guitar ever sold at the time.
Ringo Starr Ludwig Drum Kit
Everything about the Beatles echoes great rarity and strong comebacks. A Ludwig Oyster black pearl three-piece drum kit that drummer Ringo Starr owned sold for over AU $ 3 million at Julien’s Auctions in 2015. The drummer, who was the last to join the famous four, has played the kit both on stage and on television in over 200 performances between 1963 and 1964. A piece of musical history, he also used the instrument to record several early Beatles hits including Can’t Buy Me, To like, She loves You, and I want to hold your hand.
Marilyn Monroe’s baby grand piano
While Marilyn Monroe passed away nearly 60 years ago, the iconic status of the American actress, model and singer continues. Many of his possessions are among the most collectable items with fans around the world. Originally owned by Marilyn’s mother, her white lacquered grand piano was bought by the famous buyer Mariah Carey at an auction in October 1999 for over 915,000 Australian dollars.
David Gilmour’s Fender Stratocaster
Nicknamed “The Black Strat”, the famous Fender Stratocaster first appeared on stage with Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour in 1970. In addition to accompanying the musician on stage, the black Stratocaster has also featured on the individual songs. by Pink Floyd and Gilmour, in particular Money and comfortably Numb. When the legendary 1969 Black Strat was auctioned in 2019, it grossed over AU $ 5,490,000, setting a new world auction record for a guitar.