Rare 1960s Gibson Les Paul guitar sells for £150,000 after 25 years in cupboard

US star Joe Bonamassa snaps up vintage instrument that had been left to gather dust

Ed Cullinane
Friday 13 May 2022 12:43 BST
<p>The instrument was originally bought in 1967 </p>

The instrument was originally bought in 1967

A rare 1960s guitar has been sold to an American music star for more than £150,000 after being left in a cupboard for 25 years.

The Gibson Les Paul Standard was purchased by Joe Bonamassa, after its unsuspecting British owner took it to a guitar shop to be valued.

The former owner, who has not been named, was reportedly left speechless because she believed the unplayable instrument was worth only £5,000.

She told ATB Guitars that her father had purchased the guitar in 1967 for £50 after seeing Eric Clapton play in London.

He had since stopped playing and put it in a cupboard at her home in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, where it gathered dust for 25 years.

American artist Joe Bonamassa with his newly purchased Gibson Les Paul

The store has successfully brokered a deal with American artist Joe Bonamassa to buy the vintage instrument for more than £150,000.

ATB Guitars’ owner Mike Long, 61, said the woman had done some research herself but wanted a guitar aficionado to value the guitar. Mr Long said she was left stunned when he told her of its true value.

He added: “She’d been given the guitar to look after while he (her father) moved, and she was looking into adding it to her household insurance.

“She wasn’t sure how much to value it and did a quick google search of the make and model and figured it’d be worth about £5,000.

“She decided that before she submitted the insurance application she would just get someone who knows what they’re doing to give a proper appraisal.

“The pictures she initially sent over weren’t very clear, so we got her to bring the guitar in for us to get our hands-on.”

Mr Long said: “A couple of weeks later she came in and I had a look at it, I could pretty much recognise what it was. We delved into it, did our due diligence and went back to her.

“I sort of said to her, I’ve got a bit of bad news that it is filthy unplayable, which it is.

“You couldn’t tune it up properly, and it was generally in quite a bad condition.

“Then I explained that the good news though was that when it was playable again it’d be worth about £175,000.

“It was certainly a bit of a shock. She stood there in total stunned silence for a minute and her face just dropped in disbelief.”

The Gibson Les Paul Standard has been snapped up by Joe Bonamassa - after its unsuspecting British owner brought it into a guitar shop to be valued

Mr Long agreed to restore and sell the guitar, which he said was the most valuable guitar he expected he would ever have in his shop.

Unexpectedly, however, he was later contacted by American guitarist Joe Bonamassa.

Mr Bonamassa, an award-winning blues musician who topped the blues music charts several times had been playing in the Royal Albert Hall in London.

On hearing about the discovery, his team got in contact and agreed to purchase the instrument even before it was restored.

Mr Long said: “Joe was touring Europe at the moment and got in touch, so we brought it along to the Royal Albert Hall.

“He had a look at it, and we negotiated a payout for between £150,000 and £200,000.

“He’s going to take it to his studio in Nashville to be restored and plans to bring it touring with him in the future.

“[The owner] is very pleased with the outcome, she’s even got some tickets to see Joe perform lined up possibly where he might even play the guitar.”


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