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Earlier this year, Gilmour announced that he’d be selling 120 of his iconic guitars to “give joy” to other people and in turn raise funds to help fight climate change.
“These guitars have been very good to me,” he said. “They’re my friends. They have given me lots of music. I just think it’s time that they went off and served someone else. I have had my time with them. And of course the money that they will raise will do an enormous amount of good in the world, and that is my intention.”
Christie’s auctioned off Gilmour’s 1969 black Fender Stratocaster for $3,975,000 (£3.13m). The six-string was used on songs including ‘Comfortably Numb’, ‘Money’, ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’, and more. Gilmour also used it in his solo career, playing it on the albums ‘About Face’, ‘On An Island’, ‘Rattle That Lock’, and his 1978 self-titled solo debut.
— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) June 20, 2019
The instrument, affectionally known as ‘The Black Strat’, had been heavily modified over the years, with changes made to its neck, electronics, and cosmetics. The XLR jack was also removed during the time it was owned by the star.
You can listen to Gilmour talk about the guitar, which had become the one most closely associated with him since he bought it in New York in 1970, below.
Elsewhere at the auction, his favourite guitar – the C.F. Martin & Company Nazareth 1969 D-35 acoustic guitar – was also sold for over $1,000,000. It was his main studio guitar since 1971 and was used for the writing and pre-production of ‘Dark Side Of The Moon’ and for the recording of ‘Obscured By Clouds’.
In 2003, Guitar Player Magazine asked Gilmour his favourite guitar, to which he replied: “I guess it would be my Martin D-35. I used it on ‘Wish You Were Here’, and I’ve been using it ever since.”
#AuctionUpdate The C.F. Martin & Company, Nazareth, 1969 Acoustic Guitar, D-35 has set a new #worldauctionrecord for a C.F Martin guitar realizing $1,095,000, surpassing Eric Clapton's 1939 OO0-42 which sold for $791,500 in 2004 https://t.co/ydaAiLuxsg pic.twitter.com/KPfKFf2Pp8
— Christie's (@ChristiesInc) June 20, 2019
The same year when asked by Desert Island Discs which luxury item he would take with him if stranded and alone, he said: “Well to me it’s not a luxury, it’s an essential. I need to take my guitar with me, my acoustic Martin D-35 guitar, because life is impossible without a guitar.”
The white Stratocaster used to record the rhythm parts of ‘Another Brick In The Wall (Part 2)’ was also sold for $1.82 million (£1.43m). This was a new world record for a Fender Stratocaster until the ‘Black Strat’ toppled all hours later. A 1955 Gibson Goldtop Les Paul ,famous for Gilmour’s guitar solo on ‘Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)’, sold for $447,000 (£352,285). It was estimated at $30,000-50,000; the final $447,000 set a new auction record for a Gibson Les Paul.
Additionally, a rare Gretsch White Penguin 6134 purchased by Gilmour in 1980 for his private collection, also sold for $447,000 and secured a new auction record for a Gretsch. Gilmour’s 1974 Electric Console stele guitar that he used on live performances of ‘Shine On You Crazy Diamond’ went for $300,000 (£236,439) despite being originally estimated to sell for $2,000. The 1976 Ovation Custom Legend he used to demo ‘Comfortably Numb’ on went for $399,000 (£314,527).
Among other instruments sold included Gilmour’s primary guitar for recording and performing between 1988 and 2005, the “Red Strat,” which sold for $615,000 (£484,699). Total funds raised at the auction totalled $21,490,750 (£16.9m).
All the proceeds from the David Gilmour Guitar Auction at Christie’s in New York on the 20th June will be donated to the charity ClientEarth.
“The global climate crisis is the greatest challenge that humanity will ever face, and we are within a few years of the effects of global warming being irreversible,” said Gilmour. “As Greta Thunberg, the 16-year-old Swedish climate activist said in a speech earlier this year “Either we choose to go on as a civilisation, or we don’t”. The choice really is that simple, and I hope that the sale of these guitars will help ClientEarth in their cause to use the law to bring about real change.
“We need a civilised world that goes on for all our grandchildren and beyond in which these guitars can be played and songs can be sung.”