Jerry Garcia's Custom "Wolf" Guitar to Be Auctioned in Brooklyn

(Image credit: Roberto Rabanne (Provided by Guernsey’s))

Jerry Garcia’s infamous “Wolf” guitar will once again hit the auction block with Guernsey’s—but this time to benefit the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Guernsey’s previously sold the guitar in 2002 at Studio 54, where it fetched nearly $1 million, more than doubling the existing world record for any guitar ever sold.

Now, Wolf’s buyer, wishing to support the important efforts of the Southern Poverty Law Center and its continuing fight against racism and hate groups, has returned Wolf to Guernsey’s for an unprecedented one lot auction of this most treasured instrument.

“I’ve been a fan of the Dead since I was a kid, and playing this iconic guitar over the past 15 years has been a privilege. But the time is right for Wolf to do some good,” said the devoted Deadhead who purchased the Wolf in 2002.

“My wife and I have long supported the efforts of the Southern Poverty Law Center, and if ever we needed the SPLC, we sure do need them now.”

For millions of passionate Grateful Dead fans, there is only one “Wolf," Jerry Garcia’s legendary guitar. Customized by luthier Doug Irwin, and labeled “D. Irwin 001," Wolf was delivered to Jerry and first appeared in a 1973 New York City performance the Grateful Dead gave for the Hell’s Angels. Over the following two decades, Wolf became almost as well known as the performer himself as it was played in countless concerts and on treasured recordings throughout Jerry’s fabled career.

Indeed, the 1977 film The Grateful Dead Movie directed by Jerry features extensive footage of the beloved musician onstage playing Wolf. From San Francisco’s Winterland Ballroom to NYC’s Palladium to Egypt’s Great Pyramids, Jerry and Wolf travelled, appearing in front of massive, passionate audiences.

“Rarely, if ever, has there been an item as memorable and noteworthy as Wolf being sold to benefit such a worthy cause,” said Arlan Ettinger, president of Guernsey’s. “Guernsey’s is thrilled that the return of Wolf will go a long way to combat poverty, racism and injustice across the country.

The proceeds of the winning high bid on this guitar will go directly to SPLC.

“We are deeply grateful that the Wolf’s current owner is willing to part with this piece of music history to support the SPLC’s mission fighting hate and bigotry,” said SPLC President Richard Cohen. “As extremism moves from the fringe to the mainstream, we have a lot of work to do. This remarkable act of generosity only strengthens our resolve.”


The Guernsey’s event, additionally supported by the Relix Group, will take place May 31 following an evening of music played by a lineup of extraordinary musicians live at NYC’s Brooklyn Bowl. Absentee bidders also will be accommodated.

Those interested in bidding should visit or contact the auction house in at 212-794-2280.

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Guitar World Staff

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