During a two-hour bidding war, guests at Christie’s Crossroads Guitar Auction, organized by Eric Clapton and friends, helped set three new world auction records bring in nearly $8 million in sales, a portion of which was donated to Crossroads Centre in Antigua, an addiction treatment center established by Clapton in 1998. The entire auction brought in nearly $8 million in sales.
Held at the James Christie salesroom at Rockefeller Center, the auction featured guitars from Eric Clapton’s collection, as well as instruments donated by Jimmie Vaughan and Pete Townshend, among others. The top seller of the evening was Blackie, the black and white composite Fender Stratocaster that served as Clapton’s sole stage and studio guitar from 1970 till 1985. Blackie was sold for $959,500, becoming the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction.
The first copy of the Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster, modeled after Blackie and extensively used by Clapton from 1990 onwards was bought for $231,500 against an estimate of $8,000-12,000.
Clapton’s 1964 cherry-red Gibson ES-335, the second electric guitar Eric Clapton ever bought, which he used from his time with the Yardbirds until today, was offered with its case, which has the word ‘Cream’ and the initials ‘EC G ES’ stenciled in white paint on the exterior. The guitar sold for $847,500 against a $60,000-80,000 estimate, setting a world auction record for any Gibson guitar.
Clapton’s 1939, 000-42 Martin, which he played on the ‘Unplugged’ album, sold for $791,500, a world auction record for any Martin guitar.
Other top prices were achieved for Ivan, the 12-string guitar Clapton co-designed with Tony Zemaitis in 1969 ($253,900); a custom, gold-leaf decorated Fender Stratocaster, numbered EC-1, commemorating the 50th anniversary of the model ($455,500); and The Rainbow Rod, a Fender Stratocaster, circa 1996, with an iridescent finish, created by Roy Brizio, the famed Californian hot rod builder ($220,300).
From the group of guitars donated by other musicians to support the Crossroads Centre, the spectacular Lenny, the Fender Stratocaster Stevie Ray Vaughan played from the 1970s onward until his tragic death in 1990, was donated by Stevie Ray Vaughan’s brother, Jimmie, from the SRV estate. It is the only personal guitar from SRV to have been released from the Estate into the public domain and it sold for $623,500, the second highest price for a Fender Stratocaster.