Julien's Auctions - Music Icons - Catalogue 2

913 A PRINCE 1994 BLUE CLOUD GUITAR A 1994 blue Cloud guitar made by Andy Beech and commissioned by Prince. The guitar has a “Paisley Park” inventory tag on the neck plate reading: “Property Of / PRNMusic Corp” and it has been assigned the unique inventory number “16186.” This item comes with a hard case with a laminated tag that reads: “PRN Productions / 7801 Audubon Road / Chanhassen, MN 55317” on one side, and: “117” on the reverse. In addition to these tags, the pickup cavity of the guitar is signed by Prince’s former guitar tech, Zeke Clark, in black marker: “Zeke for [love symbol] Prince.” This guitar was ordered through the N.P.G. pop-up store at 21 Chalk Farm Road in London on June 29, 1994, for £3,500. The order was handled by the manager of the store, Marie Poole, who wrote a letter of receipt for the payment on N.P.G. stationery, that is also included with this lot. Marie Poole mentions that the purchaser would also receive a letter from her husband, Chris Poole – Prince’s then UK public relations manager, con fi rming the order details. This letter, also on NPG stationery, as well as printed receipts and a tag showing the guitar was fl own to London on Northwest airlines with a fi nal destination at London’s Gatwick airport are all included with the lot. Chris Poole states in his letter that “the guitar is being manufactured at present” and would be shipped fromMinneapolis in two weeks” time and would take 10-14 days to arrive. The original purchaser of the guitar has also included a signed statement explaining that as the expected delivery date approached he “received a phone call fromMarie saying that Chris Poole had a business meeting with Prince at Paisley Park and therefore would be picking up the guitar and bringing it back to the UK personally.” When he received word that the guitar had arrived he went to the NPG store to collect the blue Cloud guitar that he had ordered and was greeted by Marie who asked if he was sure that he wanted a blue Cloud and not a yellow one. The guitar was therefore at Paisley Park prior to being sent to London as indicated by Poole’s letter and the fact that it has a Paisley Park “PRNMusic Corp” inventory tag with a unique inventory number, 16186. This guitar’s inventory number, 16186, is listed among the guitars accounted for on the notorious January 1995 fax created by Zeke Clark, which gives a rough idea of the census of all known Clouds and their colors and inventory numbers that Clark was aware of up to that time. The inventory shows that there were many more yellow clouds than blue at that time. This may explain why the London store manager, Marie, questioned the purchaser to be sure he wanted a blue guitar. They may have hoped the purchaser would change his mind and accept one of the more plentiful yellow Clouds. It is likely that to ful fi ll the order for a blue Cloud in such a quick time frame, one was selected from among the guitars that were already built and on hand at Paisley Park, but it is impossible to know for sure. We do know that Prince’s guitar tech Zeke handled the guitar and signed the pickup cavity, and that the guitar and case were all marked with PRNMusic Corp. tags. The very fi rst of Prince’s now famous Cloud guitars, was created by luthiers at Knute Koupee in Minneapolis in 1983, and the guitar became famous when it appeared as the object of “The Kid’s” desire in the 1984 fi lm Purple Rain. Knute Koupee made three Cloud’s for Prince between 1983-1984. Warner Bros. commissioned a fourth Cloud guitar in 1985 to give away as a prize in a record store contest. Prince used his original cloud guitars heavily, causing a great deal of stage wear, and in the case of Cloud #2, irreparable damage. By 1992 Prince had a falling out with Knute Koupee and was looking for a new luthier to manufacture Cloud guitars. He found Andy Beech in the early 1990s. After an initial order of 3 guitars, Prince was pleased with the results and ordered two additional batches of 12 guitars each, for a total of 27 instruments. These guitars were used by Prince as well as sold through his N.P.G. stores in Minneapolis and London. All of the instruments built by Andy Beech, whether destined for sale through one of Prince’s N.P.G. stores - or destined to be used on stage by Prince, were of the same quality and speci fi cations. $60,000-80,000 182

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