A George Harrison Guitar Is Worth $511,000
An Exceptionally Rare Guitar
On the latest episode of BBC TV series Antiques Roadshow filmed at the historic Battle Abbey in Sussex, somebody brought in a 1960s Bartell fretless guitar that was once owned by John Lennon and George Harrison. The show encourages people to bring their most prized belongings so experts can appraise them. It’s all for appraisal since it’s not an avenue for buying or selling the items. Besides, the host doesn’t provide the owner’s full name.
The story behind the guitar is that it’s a prototype made by Bartell of California between 1964 and 1968. The owner of the company was a Beatles fan so he gave one to Lennon, and then another to rock deity Jimi Hendrix. Lennon gave it to Harrison who ended up gifting it to the current owner named Ray who used to work as a session musician.
Ray recalled, “One of the things I used to do regularly was sessions for Handmade Films, which George Harrison started. At the end of [one] session, George said to me, ‘I’m not sure what to do with this, but you have a go.’ I just got handed a guitar. It’s a strange thing to play. I played a few notes and he said, ‘Yeah, you’re definitely getting more out of it than I am. It’s doing better for you. Why don’t you have it?’”
Ray then showed a photograph showing the Quiet Beatle with the guitar as part of his collection. Expert Jon Baddeley valued the rare item at $511,000. He said, “I think in 25 years it’s by far the most expensive thing I’ve ever seen. To a guitar collector, it’s initially a very rare guitar. Then to somebody who’s a Beatles fan, to own a guitar that was once owned by both John Lennon and George Harrison – can you get a better history? Two of the most important rock stars of the 20th century.”
Ray didn’t reveal whether he plans on selling it.