Auction News

Clapton Wonderful Tonight guitar at £400,000 sale


Eric Clapton's Wonderful Tonight guitar
Image courtesy of Bonhams

A guitar Eric Clapton called his “best friend” and on which he wrote Wonderful Night is being sold in London on June 12. A £300,000 to £400,000 sale is predicted by auctioneers Bonhams.

The acoustic Martin 000-28 from 1974 was Clapton’s working guitar at the time. He took it on tour with him, wrote on it, and stuck cigarettes under the strings to the extent that burns to the headstock are the most notable damage noted in the sale catalogue.

Wonderful Tonight is possibly Clapton’s most beloved song. Like Layla, it was written for his wife Patti Boyd.

Cigarette burns show that Clapton used this workhorse guitar ever day.

In March, Boyd’s own collection of memorabilia sold for over £3 million. It included letters from Clapton, as well as from her first husband, George Harrison, of The Beatles, whom she left for Clapton.

Clapton once said: “This was a touring hotel room guitar and I played it on stage during the 1970s. It was a working instrument and probably my best friend at the time. It is a 000-28, the basic model without any inlay. It very much suited my way of looking at the world at that point.”

Clapton kept the guitar until 1999 when he sold it to raise money for his Crossroads addiction treatment charity.

Apart from the cigarette burns, the instrument is in very good condition and has not been refinished or refurbished. A sticker with the title of Don Williams’ “She’s in love with a rodeo man” is stuck to one side. Clapton and Williams were friends.

“Clapton is one of the greatest living guitarists of all time,” Claire Tole-Moir, of Bonhams’ popular-culture department, told Reuters. “To have a guitar that’s from such a pivotal time in his career and attached to such a pivotal song is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

Star-owned guitars are the most saleable and valuable of rock ‘n’ roll memorabilia.

This summer guitars owned by Prince and John Lennon are both heading to auction with top estimates of $600,000 and $800,000, respectively.

Kurt Cobain’s unplugged guitar, at $6 million, is the current most-valuable-guitar world record holder.

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