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Jerry Garcia's "Wolf" Guitar Sells for $1.9 Million

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

Jerry Garcia’s infamous “Wolf” guitar hit the auction block at last night's Guernsey's auction in Brooklyn—and its sale will wind up raising more than $3 million for charity.

The guitar was bought by Brian Halligan, CEO of marketing group HubSpot and a lifelong Deadhead.

Halligan paid $1.9 million, which includes the buyer's premium, and his $1.6 million pre-premium bid was matched by an anonymous charity. You can see a photo of Halligan with the guitar at last night's auction right here,courtesy of the BBC.

All the proceeds from the sale will go to Southern Poverty Law Centre (SPLC).

“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 Daniel Pritzker, a philanthropist, musician and film director (and devoted Deadhead) who bought the guitar in 2002 for $790,000. “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 traveled, appearing in front of massive, passionate audiences.

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Damian Fanelli
Damian Fanelli

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor, and his non-Pulitzer-Prize-winning stories have appeared in Guitar Aficionado, Vintage Guitar, Total Guitar and countless other publications, including 13.7 metric tons of daily newspapers. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton and Ty Tabor chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums (one of which appears in the 2015 Disney film 'Tomorrowland' starring George Clooney and Britt Robertson). He's in two NYC-area bands and plays Teles with four-way switches, B-benders and semi-snazzy aftermarket pickups. He quotes Terry-Thomas twice daily.