Bernie Marsden puts legendary Les Paul The Beast up for sale – and then takes the listing down

The former Whitesnake guitarist says after some reflection, he’s decided to keep the fabled ’59 Les Paul Standard Burst in his possession for now.

Bernie Marsden

Credit: Joby Sessions/Future Publishing via Getty Images / Bernie Marsden/Instagram

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Earlier this week, The Beast – a ‘59 Gibson Les Paul Standard Burst owned by rock and blues guitarist Bernie Marsden – was put on sale via the UK’s ATB Guitars for an astonishing $1.3 million.

But after some reflection, Marsden has done a 180, removing the listing from the website, and sharing on social media that he’s not selling the guitar after all.

“I have been astonished by the reaction to the potential sale of The Beast!” Marsden says in a new Instagram post. “As you all know, I’ve had the guitar since 1974 and technically it’s been for sale ever since… That’s what happens when you own a vintage Les Paul!”

He continues: “However, I have had some constructive conversations with my family and they feel it should stay with me for a bit longer, and so I have withdrawn it from a possible sale… I hope this improves your moods.”

It appears the masses agree with Marsden’s decision to shackle The Beast in his possession once more; one commenter writes, “Man, if you sold that guitar, you’d suffer [with] ‘the one that got away’ syndrome for the rest of your days!”

Another says, “It belongs to you and with you, and it will forever be ‘The Beast – Bernie Marsden’s ’59’, so keep it!”

A legendary guitar, The Beast found its way into Marsden’s possession in 1974 while he was playing in Wild Turkey, and remained his go-to six-string for years, throughout his time in Whitesnake.

Prior to Marsden’s ownership, though, the guitar was reportedly in the possession of Eric Clapton – the initials “EC” are etched into the finish at the heel – before Clapton traded it with Paul Kossoff, whose bandmate Andy Fraser sold it to the man who eventually sold it to Marsden.

Owing to both its history, and the fact it is one of only 1,500 ‘59 Les Paul Bursts produced worldwide – others including Greeny and Jimmy Page’s Number 1 – The Beast had an asking price of £999,995, approximately $1.3 million, before the listing was taken down.

On the listing page which has since been taken down, ATB wrote, “This is quite the guitar. The faded top is to many the holy grail of finishes and this one has to be the dictionary definition.

“As a guitar produced in 1959, the dye used was quite photoreactive, a problem rectified the following year. The original colour can be seen under the pickguard. What is left behind is a wonderful hue that showcases the subtly flamed top. As you expect, the top is worn though this is not extensive and there are marks around the controls.”

“The headstock shows the odd battle scar,” the company added. “There is the sign of an old repair to the headstock as you can see in the pictures. The silk screening is there but quite faded. The guitar is currently fitted with a set of reproduction Kluson tuners and there are signs that different tuners have been fitted. There are a set of correct Kluson tuners included in the sale.

“The plastics are in good shape. The jack plate has broken in the past, included with the guitar, and has been replaced with a reproduction. Elsewhere everything is as you’d expect with signs of use. The neck pickup ring was replaced some time ago due to the common cracking that often occurred.”

In a 2020 Guitar.com piece in which Joe Bonamassa sat down with The Beast, he called the guitar “exceptional”, adding: “I don’t know why – it’s the same wood, the same pickups, maybe even built by the same person.

“But the cumulative effect of the magic tree or whatever it is – who knows, it can even be the same billet of wood – means that there are some that are just exceptional, and have the extra 10 or 15 percent that other ones don’t. Bernie’s guitar happens to be exceptional. And I don’t know why!

While The Beast listing has been taken down, Bernie Marsden is still selling a trove of his old gear via ATB, including a 1952 Les Paul Goldtop, 1961 Tele Custom, 1963 Firebird I and 1966 Gibson EDS-175. For more info, head to ATB Guitars.

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