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Paul McCartney’s bass is now the most expensive ever sold at auction

Instruments played by the likes of Eddie Vedder, Radiohead and Bruce Springsteen also sold for hundreds of thousands at the auction

By Patrick Clarke

A selection of the guitars sold at Van Eaton Galleries' recent auction
Paul McCartney's Yamaha BB-1200 “Wings” bass guitar (centre) is now the most expensive ever sold at auction (Photo: Van Eaton Galleries)

A recent auction of guitars from some of the biggest names in music broke records over the weekend, raising over $2million ($1.5million) for the charity Music Rising.

The event was organised by The Edge and producer Bob Ezrin and hosted by Van Eaton Galleries. It included guitars donated by The Edge and his U2 bandmates, as well as instruments played by the likes of Lou Reed, Lenny Kravitz, Bruce Springsteen, Rush, Slash and Radiohead.

Paul McCartney’s tour- and studio-played Yamaha BB-1200 “Wings” bass guitar was the most notable sale of the night, fetching $496,100 (£374,905). It is the most a bass guitar has ever sold for at auction, beating the previous record of $384,000 (£290,190) set by  Bill Wyman’s 1969 Fender Mustang bass last year.

Eddie Vedder’s Lake Placid Blue Fender Telecaster, which the musician had smashed while playing a gig, also set a record. Selling for $266,200 (£201,168) it is the most expensive smashed guitar ever sold at auction.

Paul McCartney standing in a garden
Paul McCartney (Photo: Mary McCartney)

The Edge said of the event: “We want to thank everyone involved in this amazing auction including the artists who generously gave their personal instruments and the bidders from around the globe who helped us break world records.

“The proceeds Music Rising earned will help bring live music back to life in a part of the country whose musical culture has been hugely influential in the world,” he continued. “We are indebted to all of the supporters of Music Rising who have given us a great opportunity to return to our roots and help those musicians in need.”

Ezrin added, “We are so thankful to all of the artists, supporters and bidders who helped make Guitar Icons an auction for the history books. New Orleans musicians are the custodians of a unique music heritage, passing it down through the generations and influencing so many genres of music we enjoy.

“The proceeds from this auction will help musicians from the region who suffered financially through this pandemic.”