John Lennon's Guitar Sells for a Record $2.4 Million

John Lennon Guitar
John Lennon (r) with the 962 J-160E Gibson guitar. Julien's Auctions

An acoustic guitar that once belonged to John Lennon—and on which he played some of the Beatles' most recognizable early hits—has been sold at a California auction for a record $2.4 million.

Julien's Auctions sold the 1962 J-160E Gibson model guitar to an undisclosed buyer on Saturday, the auction house said in a press release.

Lennon owned the instrument between 1962 and 1963 and played it on songs including "Love Me Do" and "I Want to Hold Your Hand."

Lennon originally purchased the guitar from Rushworth's Music House in Liverpool for £161 in 1962, before swapping it a year later with bandmate George Harrison. It later went missing during a Christmas concert at Finsbury Park in 1963.

"This record price of $2.41 million dollars for a guitar shows that historical artifacts relating to the music industry are not just for fans but for serious investors and collectors," Darren Julien, President of Julien's Auctions, tells Newsweek. "It's the new art market."

The guitar remained in the possession of novice musician John McCaw, who bought it in the late 1960s for a small fee of $275 without knowing it had been previously stolen, Julien said.

Last year, however, McCaw found an old magazine article about the band, which featured a photo of the instrument. Its authenticity was then determined by its matching serial number and wood grain, among other things.

The sale surpasses the $965,000 paid for the electric guitar Bob Dylan played at Newport Folk Festival in 1965, which was sold by Christie's auction house in 2013.

Half of the proceeds from the sale of the guitar will go towards the Spirit Foundation, a charitable organization that Lennon and his widow, Yoko Ono, created.

Lennon's guitar wasn't the only piece of Beatles memorabilia to go on sale this weekend. The most famous of the seven known Beatles drop-T logo drum heads, used when they made their appearance on The Ed Sullivan Show in 1964, also sold for $2.1 million.