Competition was very strong to buy anything and everything from the Les Paul estate sale in Los Angeles yesterday and today.
Of course Les Paul’s Gibson Les Paul Recording model guitars were the stars, but even this pair of worklamps generously estimated to bring $100 to $150, sold for an amazing $2,750 hammer price!
Prices consistently exceed the estimates, with Les Paul modified or biography-featured items proving to be keenly sought-after. This was one auction where originality and playabililty seemed to count less than quirky and identifiably Les. This was an estate sale of a man who didn’t part with much, and everything went under the hammer from his old army boots, living room furniture, spectacles and national insurance card through to 70s studio equipment, rolls of copper wire, boxes of electronics, upright basses, mandolins and of course lots of guitars.
Les Paul was a natural curator and many of his guitars include his hand-written notes about the item and how he came by it. Some were presentation instruments, and many were signed on the back of the headstock or elsewhere. Les loved to sign guitars even in the early days, as seen on a $200 Kay which fetched $5,500 for it’s “Rhubarb Red” headstock signature and “To Tony, if you cant tune this, call me, Les” inscription on the front.
Bidders were keen to own a guitar, any guitar, owned by Les Paul. An unmodified ES-125 in poor condition brought $3,750 under the hammer, that’s $4687.50 in all.
Other notable prices included:
- $70,000 for a 1927 Gibson L-5 (that’s $87,500 including the buyer’s premium),
- $50,000 for a 1952 (first year) gold top, signed Les Paul, no serial number but with changed tuners
- $150,000 for the (first ever?) Recording model prototype serial number 001, complete with a “Paulverizer” attached to the Bigsby
- $120,000 was paid for an iconic Epiphone Zephyr with Gibson headstock decal, labelled “Klunker #3 – stays at home”
- Star lot was a 1951 Fender no-caster gifted and signed by Leo Fender and counter-signed by Les which closed out at $216,000
Oh yes, and $1,300 for a copy of Linda McCartney’s vegetarian cookbook!
Les Paul was a guitarist, innovator, legend in his own lifetime and a thoroughly charming person. It’s totally fitting that his artefacts are so treasured.