Feb 15, 2014

Dylans Historic Newport Stratocaster up for Auction

On Dec. 6, 2013, Christie’s of New York will auction the 1964 Fender Stratocaster guitar that was played by Bob Dylan at the Newport Folk Festival in July of 1965. The guitar is expected to bring between $300,000 and $500,000.

Stratocasters of this vintage without notable provenance regularly sell for $30,000 or less. Apparently, rock ’n’ roll provenance demands a premium price.

Stratocasters with impressive provenance have sold for impressive prices before. In June 1999, Christie’s sold Eric Clapton’s 1956 Strat for $497,500. In 2004, another Clapton Strat sold for $959, 500. Both of these sales were to benefit the Crossroads Centre, a drug-and-alcohol rehabilitation center founded by Clapton. A third Strat autographed by several celebrities (including Clapton) was sold in 2006 for $2.8 million to benefit the victims of the 2004 Asian tsunami. If rock ’n’ roll provenance is worth big bucks, rock ’n’ roll provenance attached to a cause is worth even more. But what about the Dylan Stratocaster? What makes this guitar so valuable? It’s not autographed, and it’s not being auctioned to benefit a cause.

Auction pundits say that the guitar’s value is tied to its place in rock ’n’ roll history. Rolling Stone Magazine marks Dylan’s performance at Newport one of the “50 Moments that Changed the History of Rock ’N’ Roll.” Perhaps that’s true; but this Strat’s place in history and the price that it might bring at auction is not the most interesting part of this story. In my opinion, the real story is how the guitar came to be in this auction in the first place.  Read More...

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