Guitar players, collectors, investors, fans bid on Les Paul’s guitars and historic artifacts.
The Les Paul Estate and the Les Paul Foundation tied in with Julien’s Auctions in downtown Beverly Hills for a two-day auction of guitars, amps, recording gear, memorabilia and lots more from the electric guitar and multi-tracking pioneer’s personal collection. Paul died Aug. 12, 2009, and the auction coincides with and celebrates what would have been his 97th birthday.
When I visited Les at his home and studio in Mahwah, N.J., in May 1991, to interview him for the book I wrote to accompany his four-CD Capitol boxed set, “The Legend & The Legacy,” he showed me rooms and rooms with dozens of guitar cases stacked high. They were production models, prototypes sent to him to check out, gifts, his own experimental models, and more. The Julien’s auction pulls them out of their darkened cases so the rest of us can see what they look like. And it’s mind-boggling, a guitar-player’s wet dream, and a real treat for anyone interested in Les Paul, recording history, or electric guitar design and development.
The Julien’s auction, directed by Darren Julien and his impressively professional staff, marked the first time in history the vast majority (but not all) of Les’ guitars and other historic artifacts have all been unpacked and displayed to the public.
It’s also the last time these items will ever be in the same place. After this, the guitar players, collectors, investors, fans and others who bought parts of this historic collection will scatter these items to the far corners of the planet. Julien’s (www.juliensauctions.com) did a first-class job curating and staging the event, with beautiful displays, a full-color inch-thick catalog suitable for any coffee table and smooth integration of bidding between those in the room and those online. Bidders and fans are able to participate by watching the stream at www.julienslive.com.At this link, Julien’s is posting the winning bids for each item: http://ow.ly/bsYYN.
What will never come through the pics, video or stream is the aroma. The Mahwah house and studio was nearly four decades old by my 1991 visit, and it had a certain musty but not unpleasant aroma, in part because of all the gear. At Julien’s, walking into the various rooms where similar gear is sorted and stacked, the same aroma was omnipresent. The smell goes with the gear. So whoever wins the bids on that stuff will get not only the hardware, but also the authentic Mahwah studio aroma.
Proceeds from the auction will benefit the nonprofit Les Paul Foundation and its events and programs designed to keep Les’s legend and legacy alive and thriving, and promote music education. Find out more at www.lespaulfoundation.org.