A Day of Legends: Music Icons Shatters Records with Historic $6 Million Opening

Day 1 of Julien's 'Music Icons' auction ended with a historic $6 million in sold artifacts

May 30, 2024

The first day of Julien's Auctions' highly anticipated “Music Icons” event has proven to be an unforgettable moment for music enthusiasts and collectors alike. With a staggering $6 million in sales, nearly tripling its initial estimate, and a remarkable 98.5% sell-through rate, we continue our valiant commitment to our consigners and bidders, and never-ending push to cement our reputation as the premier destination for rock 'n' roll memorabilia.

The day’s biggest highlight was the sale of John Lennon's long-lost 1965 Framus Hootenanny acoustic guitar, which skyrocketed to a jaw-dropping $2.85 million, more than quadruple its pre-auction estimate. This historic sale not only sets a new world record for the most expensive Beatles guitar ever sold but also solidifies the enduring legacy of the iconic musician.

A 1965 Fender Telecaster solid body electric guitar, serial #L97811, finish stripped to natural. Formerly owned, recorded, and stage played by Robbie Robertson of The Band, and stage played by Bob Dylan. From the collection of Robbie Robertson.

When Bob Dylan went electric, this guitar was there. Side one of "Bringing It All Back Home" featured an electric backing band, with Dylan further embracing the sound on 1965’s Highway 61 Revisited, and 1966’s "Blonde on Blonde."

Robbie Robertson of The Hawks (the band who would later come to be known as “The Band”) ordered this Telecaster after suggesting that it would be a good fit for Dylan as he integrated the sound and use of the electric guitar into his performances. The Telecaster, a model lovingly referred to as a “workhorse” for many years, was routinely praised for its simplicity of design, great sound, light weight, and stable tuning due to the lack of a vibrato bridge, as is common for Fender’s other revolutionary guitar design, the Stratocaster.

Originally factory black, Dylan used this guitar throughout 1965, put it to tape on "Blonde on Blonde," and played it every night on his World Tour in 1966 including the infamous heckling incident in Manchester on May 17th, where Dylan was called “Judas” by a concertgoer. Dylan responded, "I don’t believe you," then turned toward the band and yelled, "Play it fucking loud!" The band launched into "Like a Rolling Stone," drowning out any further objection from the audience. This incident was captured on film and later released; Dylan had this Telecaster slung around his shoulder while it all went down.

Robertson would go on to put the guitar to good use, writing "Chest Fever," "Caledonia Mission," and the opening guitar part of "The Weight," all of which would appear on The Band’s 1968 album "Music from the Big Pink".

The auction also witnessed fierce bidding for other coveted items, including Bob Dylan and Robbie Robertson's 1965 Fender Telecaster guitar, which fetched an impressive $650,000, setting a new world record for the most expensive Robbie Robertson guitar sold at auction. The Grateful Dead's Jerry Garcia stage-played "Winterland Ballroom" Travis Bean electric guitar and stage-used slavedriver synth further fueled the excitement, reaching $520,000.

The Julian Lennon Collection captivated bidders with its trove of Beatles memorabilia, including a collection of iconic RIAA "Gold" Single Records and a "Yellow Submarine" animation cel, which sold for $28,575 and $31,750, respectively, far exceeding their estimates. The entire collection garnered an impressive sum of over $570,000.

A 1976 Travis Bean TB500 solid body electric guitar, stamped 11 on the headstock, in white finish. Owned and extensively played by Jerry Garcia, songwriter, vocalist and lead guitarist for The Grateful Dead. Paired with the Slavedriver 360 guitar synthesizer, the first-ever guitar synth played in-studio. Used at numerous Grateful Dead concerts including The Dead's three night stint at the Winterland Ballroom in 1977.

Garcia’s dissatisfaction with then-current production guitars lead to him commissioning something very different with Travis Bean. The brand, helmed by Gary Kramer, Marc McElwee, and namesake Travis Bean, forged a new path in guitar making with unique body shapes and the use of aluminum for the necks, which isn’t susceptible to changes in heat and humidity like traditional wood necks. Equally unique were the company’s pickups, which were incredibly hot, or overwound, for the time. This yielded a bigger, bolder sound which gave Bean an advantage over Fender and Gibson of the 1970s.

This is one of two such instruments Garcia used from ’76-’77, the other one being #12. #11 is said to be the second TB500 produced, and is the one that Garcia gave to equipment manager Steve Parish, who worked with Garcia from 1969-1995. By his account, the guitar was heavily used in both The Grateful Dead and The Jerry Garcia Band.

Key Highlights (winning bids with BP):

  • John Lennon's Lost Guitar: Sold for $2.85 million, setting a new world record.
  • Bob Dylan and Robbie Robertson's Fender Telecaster: $650,000, another world record.
  • The Julian Lennon Collection: $570,000 total sales.
  • Dolly Parton’s Twice-Signed Martin 000-Jr Acoustic Guitar: $10,400 (sold five times above estimate.)
  • The Rolling Stones Band-Signed “It’s Only Rock and Roll” Limited-Edition Print: $16,250 (sold nearly 16 times above estimate.)
  • Eric Clapton’s Played Alvarez Acoustic. Guitar Used to Write “Tears in Heaven”: $101,600.
  • Other notable sales: Jerry Garcia's stage-played guitar and synth, Freddie Mercury's stage-worn singlet, John Sebastian's tie-dye jacket.
a picture of a guitar a red bodysuit and a record labeled the beatles

Day 1 of Julien's 'Music Icons' ended with a historic $6 million in sold artifacts.

Julien's Auctions continues to push boundaries and break records in the world of rock 'n' roll memorabilia, demonstrating the enduring value and appeal of music history's most treasured artifacts. With day one of "Music Icons" proving to be an extraordinary success, the second day promises to be an equally thrilling event for collectors and fans alike.

a man singing into a microphone while holding a guitar


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