Published On: Tue, Mar 10th, 2015

Colts Owner Jim Irsay Pays Over Half a Million for John Lennon’s Guitar

The Gretsch guitar Irsay purchased is the most significant of Lennon's guitars to come on the market in 30 years

Jim Irsay guitar

John Lennon’s Gretsch guitar which he used to record the 1966 hit “Paperback Writer” was sold to Indianapolis Colts owner and vintage guitar collector Jim Irsay for $530, 000, according to Rolling Stone. It has been said to be the most significant of Lennon’s guitars to come onto the market for 30 years.

John Lennon’s cousin, David Birch, owned the guitar since 1967 when his famous relative casually gifted it to him, after asking him which of his guitars he wanted to take home. Birch had wanted to auction it previously, but withdrew it when he didn’t get a bit of at least $600, 000. It wasn’t easy to convince Birch to lower his offer.

Chris McKinney, Irsay’s guitar curator, said of Birch, “He’s a feisty old Englishman, ” and described how 15 offers were made and rejected before they settled on the $530, 000.

Irsay said of Lennon’s Gretsch 6120 Chet Atkins hollow body, “John Lennon’s guitars are as special as it gets, ” he told Rolling Stone. “Instruments like this rarely become available, so anything John Lennon used is some of the most important historical musical archives that exist on the planet.”

Irsay, who hails from Hungarian Jewish ancestry on his father’s side, knows a thing or two about classic guitars. He owns 175 of them, including the Black Beauty, Les Paul’s guitar that became the prototype of those used by Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton and Keith Richards, Jerry Garcia’s Tiger and Bob Dylan’s Fender.

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