A George Harrison guitar fetched an astonishing $657,000 at a Beatles auction on Saturday, and for one Illinois man, the news is surreal.
According to a report from the Chicago Tribune, 81-year-old Gabe McCarty was with the Beatles legend when he purchased the electric guitar at an Illinois music store in 1963.
Upon hearing of the huge sale, McCarty voiced his disbelief to the newspaper, saying, “$657,000? Oh boy, I had that thing in my hands. It cost more than my house, I know.”
George Harrison, who died in 2001 at just 58 years old, played the 1962 Rickenbacker 425 black-and-white electric guitar on the British TV shows Ready Steady Go! and Thank Your Lucky Stars while performing with the Beatles.
Julien’s Auctions expected the instrument to go for between $400k and $600k, so the final number was a bit of a surprise to everyone involved.
The guitar was also reportedly played by Harrison for the recordings of “This Boy” and “I Want To Hold Your Hand,” which means his possession of it predated the so-called “Beatlemania” invasion of the United States. The instrument was purchased from Mount Vernon, Illinois, while Harrison was visiting his sister.
McCarty received his once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to meet the future legend when Harrison’s sister Louise called him and set up the meet-and-greet. At the time, McCarty was playing bass for a local band known as the Four Vests. He said that Harrison’s purchase price for the guitar was “between $400 and $500,” the Tribune reported.
George Harrison was often thought of as the most well-liked Beatle, and McCarty’s own memory of him goes along with that.
“He had long hair. He was real polite and well-mannered, that’s the thing I noticed about him,” McCarty said.
As McCarty became better acquainted with the Beatle, he and a bandmate learned that Harrison wanted a guitar like John Lennon’s, so they took him to Fenton’s Music Shop, where he made the purchase.
Reuters added that other sales at the Beatles auction included “a handwritten placard with doodles signed by John Lennon and Yoko Ono from their 1969 anti-war ‘bed-in’ in Montreal, which fetched $187,000” and a “Hofner bass rented by Paul McCartney in the mid-1960s, [which] sold for $125,000.”
Non-Beatles merchandise included the white jumpsuit worn by Elvis Presley during a 1971 concert (final sale price: $197,000), and the 1990 red Rolls-Royce Corniche III convertible owned and used by Lady Gaga (fsp: $125,000).
Do you think a guitar played by George Harrison is worth that kind of coin?
[Image via Wikipedia Commons]