David Gilmour’s ‘Black Strat’ guitar tops $3.97M at auction

Gemma Sudlow, auctioneer and Christie’s head of Private & Iconic Collections auctions ‘The Black Strat’ for $3,975,000 Thursday. Christie’s image

NEW YORK – Christie’s sold the David Gilmour guitar collection Thursday for $21,490,750, becoming the most valuable musical instruments sale in auction history. Leading the collection of 126 guitars was the iconic 1969 Black Fender Stratocaster, which achieved $3,975,000, setting a world auction record for any guitar.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay is the instrument’s new owner.

The iconic ‘Black Strat’ was Gilmour’s primary performance and recording instrument integral to recording many Pink Floyd’s greatest albums including The Wall, Wish You Were Here, and Dark Side of the Moon, as well as his solo albums. The proceeds from the auction will be donated to the charity ClientEarth, an environmental law organization with an announced mission of fighting climate change.

Left: David Gilmour playing ‘The Black Strat’ for the ‘Live at Abbey Road’ series, Aug. 29, 2006. Photo: Polly Samson. Right: Gilmour playing the guitar with Pink Floyd, live at Earls Court, London, on May 19, 1973. Photo: Jill Furmanovsky

In the months leading up to the auction, over 12,000 fans booked hour-long time slots at the tour stops in London, Los Angeles and New York to get up-close to the guitars. In excess of 500,000 people viewed the content around the sale on Christies.com, and more than 2,000 bidders from 66 countries registered for the sale.

After delaying the start of the sale one hour to accommodate the unprecedented number of bidders who queued around the block in Rockefeller Center to witness auction history, the sale quickly set records when lot 2, Gilmour’s Martin D-35 sold for $1,095,000 — a new world auction record for a C.F. Martin guitar. Estimated at $10,000-20,000, this acoustic guitar was immortalized in the legendary Pink Floyd tracks Wish You Were Here and Shine on You Crazy Diamond.

Top lots included the 1954 White Fender Stratocaster #0001 (estimate: $100,000-150,000), which was used on several recordings, including Another Brick in the Wall (Parts 2  and 3). The guitar sold for $1,815,000, which was a new world record for a Fender Stratocaster until hours later the record was smashed again by the ‘Black Strat.’

Additional auction records included a 1955 Gibson Les Paul, famous for Gilmour’s guitar solo on Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2). Estimated at $30,000-50,000, it sold for $447,000, a new auction record for a Gibson Les Paul. An incredibly rare Gretsch White Penguin 6134 purchased by Gilmour in 1980 for his private collection, also realized $447,000 – a new auction record for a Gretsch.

The previous record for collection of musical instruments was Eric Clapton’s guitar collection which sold in 1999 ($5,072,350) and in 2004 ($7,438,624), realizing $12,510,974 in total.