Richard Gere Guitar Collection Fetches $936,000 at Auction

Les Paul
A 1960 Les Paul solidbody guitar owned by actor Richard Gere. It sold for $98,500. Source: Christie's via Bloomberg

Richard Gere’s vintage guitar and amplifier collection brought in $936,438 at Christie’s in New York today.

The top lot was a 1960 Gibson Les Paul that fetched $98,500, surpassing its presale high estimate of $90,000. The winning bid came by telephone. The room was full of quiet guitar aficionados, including musician Steve Miller and redhead model, singer and songwriter Karen Elson.

“You are being too quiet,” said auctioneer Andrew McVinish. “If you want to rock ‘n’ roll -- rock ‘n’ roll.”

The 107-lot group, amassed by the “Pretty Woman” male star since he was a kid, was expected to realize about $1 million. Only 4 percent of the lots failed to find buyers.

“Without ever thinking I was putting a collection together, there seems to be one,” Gere said in his catalog statement. “I just bought what I liked, what sounded good -- what played well.”

An active philanthropist for Tibet and HIV-AIDS education, Gere has said the proceeds will go to causes he supports.

Other notable guitars in the sale included a 1931 Martin D-28 that fetched $62,500, in the middle of its presale range of $50,000 to $70,000.

A 1934 archtop made by John D’Angelico and later owned and played by James D’Aquisto, two of the premier New York luthiers, sold for $20,000, above its top estimate of $15,000.

A 1958 Gibson Flying V sold for $74,500, also within its estimate range of $60,000 to $90,000.

After placing the winning $9,500 bid ($11,875 with the buyer’s premium) on a Gibson ES-335TD with Sunburst finish, Scott Forman hollered: “Yes!”

B.B. King

“It’s gorgeous and the sound is amazing,” said the New York ophthalmologist. “B.B. King plays a guitar he calls ‘Lucille.’ It’s the same model.”

What attracted him to the sale was the quality of guitars not the provenance.

“It’s not about Richard Gere. It’s about the instrument,” Forman said. The sale prices include the buyer’s commission; the estimates don’t.

Miller, who sat in the back of the room wearing sunglasses, kept his paddle idle. His appearance at Christie’s was being filmed for a documentary titled “Burst: In Search of a Perfect Guitar,” about his quest to find a pristine 1959 Les Paul Standard Sunburst.

“I wasn’t tempted by anything,” he said. “I have 450 guitars.”

Gere, who won a Golden Globe for his performance in the movie version of “Chicago,” studied trumpet as a child and is a self-taught guitarist and pianist.

A March auction of Eric Clapton’s guitars, amplifiers and other memorabilia at Bonhams in New York raised $2.2 million for the musician’s Crossroads Centre Antigua, for drug and alcohol rehabilitation, almost four times its presale total of $400,000 to $600,000. The priciest item was a 1948 Gibson L-5P guitar that fetched $82,960.

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