The guitar collection of Pink Floyd legend David Gilmour made history on June 20 when it sold at Christie’s for a world record $21.5 million.
The New York auction featured guitars from throughout Gilmour’s musical career, including those used to record albums such as The Wall, Wish You Were Here, and Dark Side of The Moon.
Every one of the 126 guitars in the collection was sold, with many soaring far beyond their original estimates, and 58 achieving a price of $100,000 or more.
In total the auction achieved $21,490,750, a new auction record for any private collection of musical instruments, with bidders literally queuing round the block to enter the saleroom and witness the special occasion.
The previous record had stood since 2004, when Eric Clapton sold his guitar collection across two auctions for a combined total of $12.5 million.
In a stunning move following the sale, Gilmour announced he was donating the entire proceeds to the climate change charity ClientEarth.
“The global climate crisis is the greatest challenge that humanity will ever face, and we are within a few years of the effects of global warming being irreversible,” Gilmour said in a statement.
“We need a civilised world that goes on for all our grandchildren and beyond in which these guitars can be played and songs can be sung.”
“This is a truly humbling and extraordinary gift, which goes beyond our wildest expectations,” said ClientEarth CEO James Thornton.
“This gift is a phenomenal boost to our work using the law to tackle climate change and protect nature. It will allow us to play an even greater role in addressing the climate crisis and securing a healthy planet for future generations.”
Leading the auction was Gilmour’s historic 1969 Black Fender Stratocaster, known simply as ‘The Black Strat’, which became the world’s most expensive guitar when it sold for $3,975,000.
Between 1970 and 1986 the Black Strat was Gilmour’s primary guitar both on-stage and in the studio, used throughout the height of Pink Floyd’s fame.
He later donated it to the Hard Rock Cafe in New York, but reclaimed it from the display case in 2005 for the Pink Floyd reunion concert at Live 8 in London’s Hyde Park.
Another standout lot was Gilmour’s 1969 Martin D-35 acoustic guitar, as heard on the classic Pink Floyd song Wish You Were Here, which sold for $1,095,000 – more than 50 times its top estimate, and a new auction record for a Martin guitar.
Both the Black Strat and the Martin guitars were bought by Jim Irsay, the billionaire owner of the Indianapolis Colts and one of the world’s leading collectors of famous instruments.
Irsay spent $5.64 million to add the guitars to those once owned by stars including John Lennon, Bob Dylan, George Harrison, Jerry Garcia and Prince. Following the auction he tweeted:
“The incomparable David Gilmour.. the greatest “phrasing” guitarist in the world!! Honored to bring The Black Strat to the public. The most expensive guitar EVER purchased. And for charity!!!”
Further record-breaking lots from the incredible sale included 1954 White Fender Stratocaster #0001, played on Another Brick in the Wall (Parts 2 and 3), which sold for $1,815,000; a 1955 Gibson Les Paul which sold for $447,000; and a rare Gretsch White Penguin 6134 which sold for $447,000.
“David Gilmour’s music and performance is indelibly burned into the soundtrack of our popular culture,” said Kerry Keane, Christie’s Musical Instruments Specialist.
“The outpouring of excitement leading up the sale and today’s extraordinary results speaks volumes to his appeal as an artist and as a man of the world, one who has a committed philanthropic mission that supports humanity globally.”