Ian Curtis’ ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ guitar sells for £162k at auction

Curtis' pentagonal-shaped guitar was expected to fetch between £60,000 and £80,000

The guitar used by Joy Division frontman Ian Curtis in the band’s ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart‘ music video has sold for more than £162,000 at auction.

Curtis’ pentagonal-shaped Vox Phantom VI Special Guitar was expected to fetch between £60,000 and £80,000 but blew those figures out of the water at Tuesday’s auction (October 13).

Following Curtis’ death, the guitar was passed on to his bandmate, Bernard Sumner, and then to Curtis’ daughter, Natalie.


It had also been in the possession of The SmithsJohnny Marr, with whom Sumner formed the group Electronic in 1988.

The Vox Phantom VI Special Guitar owned by Ian Curtis. CREIT: Bonhams

Natalie, a professional photographer, was just one year old when Curtis committed suicide aged 23 in 1980. She said in a statement: “The guitar came to me at a time in my life when I was keen to learn more about my late father. I’m not at all musical, yet it is fascinating to see my father’s guitar, I mean, it’s such a personal thing. Since I’m a visual person, the Phantom is especially interesting to me, as the design is rather unusual.

Ian Curtis performing live onstage at the Lantaren, 1979 Credit: Getty/Rob Verhorst/Redferns)

“I grew up around and have worked with musicians, and although I’ve seen a lot of guitars, I’ve never seen anything like this. From everything I’ve been told about my father, he was very obsessed with how things looked, and so to me the Phantom makes sense as it very much feels like Ian Curtis’s guitar.”


The music video for ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, a non-album single released by the band weeks after Curtis’ death, was filmed by the group shortly before the singer died. Curtis was not known for playing guitar, but he used the Vox Phantom when regular guitarist Sumner was busy performing keyboard parts.

Curtis also used the guitar on stage during the band’s 1980 European tour as well as on the recording of their box set recordings collection ‘Heart And Soul’.

Also on sale at Bonhams auction in London next month is a rare Bartell fretless electric guitar that was owned by George Harrison and played by John Lennon, which is estimated to sell for £200,000-£300,000.