Clapton Sells Guitars, Amps to Raise $600,000 for Rehab Center

2005 Fender Stratocaster
A 2005 Fender Stratocaster Eric Clapton Signature Model, Serial No. CN98950. Source: Bonham's via Bloomberg

A black Fender Stratocaster custom-built for Eric Clapton’s Cream reunion concerts at London’s Royal Albert Hall in 2005 could sell for as little as $20,000 at Bonhams in New York this week.

There are also much less-expensive lots among the 75 guitars and 55 amplifiers Clapton is selling to benefit his Crossroads Center Antigua for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

“This sale is much more for the fans,” said Carey Wallace of London-based firm Wallace & Hodgson, which put together the auction. “There are affordable guitars, affordable amps.”

Tomorrow’s sale is expected to take in $400,000 to $600,000. Two earlier Crossroads auctions, at Christie’s, totaled $5.1 million in 1999 and $7.4 million in 2004. On both occasions, every lot sold, including a black Strat for $959,500.

“Prices just skyrocketed and were inaccessible to the fans,” said Wallace, whose firm also organized the Christie’s sales.

At Bonhams, a 1920s mandolin-banjo that resembles an ornate frying pan has a modest range of $300 to $500. A 1992 wood-body tricone resonator guitar designed by Mark Lewis has a low estimate of $6,000.

Making a return appearance is a 1948 Gibson L-5P, with a range of $20,000 to $30,000. It fetched more than $100,000 in the 2004 auction, Wallace said. The buyer, Shamir Deen, donated it to the Bonhams sale, according to the catalog.

A 2008 sky-blue guitar designed for Clapton by the Fender Custom Shop, has a presale range of $20,000 to $30,000. It was probably used in concert appearances with Steve Winwood and Jeff Beck.

Other Guitar Gods

For those who worship other guitar gods, there’s a 2006 Fender Esquire Jeff Beck replica model signed by Beck with a presale estimate of $4,500 to $6,500.

Clapton’s amplifiers appear on the market for the first time, Wallace said, flagging a 1957 Fender Twin Amp acquired by Clapton in the 1980s and “reputed to be his favorite amp,” according to the catalog. He used it at the 1992 Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary Celebration and other concerts. The amp has a low estimate of $7,500.

Of course, once you have the guitar and the amp, you’ll need the clothes. Fortunately, Bonhams is offering a three-piece “Stage Suit” in “fine black wool” made by Gianni Versace for Clapton. The presale estimate is $3,000 to $4,000.

(Katya Kazakina is a reporter for Muse, the arts and leisure section of Bloomberg News. The opinions expressed are her own.)

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