John Lennon’s Framus Hootenanny fetches nearly $3 million to become the fifth most expensive guitar ever sold at auction

At $2,857,000, Lennon’s old Framus Hootenanny is now the most expensive Beatles guitar ever sold at auction, though falls a little short of Kurt Cobain’s $6M Martin D-18E…

John Lennon with his Framus Hootenanny

Credit: Julien’s Auctions

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Last month, an iconic piece of Beatles history was uncovered. While clearing out the attic of their new home, a family came across a 12-string acoustic – but not any old acoustic. The find was John Lennon’s long-lost Framus Hootenanny, featured on 1965’s Help! and accompanying film of the same name. The famed acoustic had been lost for 50 years.

The discovery quickly passed on to Julien’s Auctions. Considering its significance, Julien’s predicted that Lennon’s guitar could set a new world record for most expensive guitar to sell at auction.

Julien’s believed that the guitar could potentially draw in higher bids than Kurt Cobain’s Martin D-18e did in 2020. The iconic piece famously featured in Nirvana’s 1993 MTV Unplugged performance and sold for over $6,000,000.

However, Lennon’s guitar would rake in just under half of that. The 12-string sold for a staggering $2,857,000, making it the 5th most expensive guitar ever sold at auction.

At nearly $3 million, Lennon’s Framus acoustic is now the most expensive Beatles guitar to date. Lennon’s Gibson J-160E previously held the crown, going for $2.4 million under the hammer back in 2015.

Lennon’s acoustic has played a key role in multiple Beatlemania highlights. As well as featuring on Help! and the film of the same name, it was also used during a performance of You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away. It was also used on Girl and the rhythm track for Norwegian Wood.

The tale of how Lennon’s Framus Hootenanny ended up in an attic for 50 years remains unclear. All we know is that Lennon passed the Framus on to Peter & Gordon’s Gordon Waller. Waller apparently gifted the guitar on to another owner – and the rest is blank. All we can assume is that it’s been gathering dust for the last 50 years, until a family discovered it in their attic.

Despite being lost for half a century, the guitar is in ship shape. The guitar was also sold with its original Maton case, which the family reportedly salvaged from a skip during a “cold, dark, wet March evening”, as the last family had thrown it away.

Julien’s Auctions worked closely with Beatles Gear expert Andy Babiuk to confirm the Hootenanny’s authenticity. “It has some distinctive markings which made it easily identifiable when compared to photos and stills from Help!,” Julien’s explains. “These markings include the darker patches in the pattern of the rosette, telltale wood grain on the top, and the swirl of the tortoise shell pickguard material.”

It’s not the first Beatles discovery this year. Back in February, Paul McCartney’s left-handed Hofner bass was found after being stolen 51 years ago. The discovery was spurred on by the Lost Bass Project, an initiative to hunt down the bass once and for all.

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