Bernie Marsden’s legendary “The Beast” ’59 Gibson Les Paul is up for sale for $1.3 million

Bernie Marsden's '59 "The Beast" Gibson Les Paul
(Image credit: Future)

Update: It has now been announced that Bernie Marsden's “The Beast” ’59 Gibson Les Paul will no longer be sold as part of this collection.

Bernie Marsden’s iconic 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard – known as “The Beast” – has gone up for sale, and its price tag exceeds the $1.3 million mark.

The iconic Burst Les Paul has been listed by UK vintage guitar seller ATB Guitars as part of a wider Bernie Marsden Collection, which contains a huge suite of six-strings owned and played by the former Whitesnake guitarist.

In any normal case, the embarrassment of electric guitar riches on display in the collection will be enough to get any guitar fan salivating, but the presence of The Beast is sure to push guitarists over the edge.

The guitar is the stuff of legend, and alongside Clapton’s Beano Burst, Page’s Number 1 and Greeny – currently owned by Kirk Hammett – is one of the most heard and recognizable Bursts ever committed to tape.

Bernie Marsden's 1959 "The Beast" Gibson Les Paul

(Image credit: Future)

Dubbed The Beast by rock drummer Cozy Powell, the Les Paul was bought by Marsden during his Wild Turkey days after it had already passed through the hands of numerous guitarists, reportedly including Eric Clapton, Paul Kossoff and Andy Fraser.

It became synonymous with Marsden and his Whitesnake sound, serving as his number one workhorse instrument during his time with the band. It’s also the guitar with which he wrote Here I Go Again.

“An iconic instrument even without the illustrious career, this guitar is a bonafide member of the rock music pantheon,” ATB Guitars writes on its website. “We are so honored to be part of the story and to be able to help find its next home.”

The vintage specialist also commented on the guitar’s impressive condition, supreme playability and “transcendental” sound, which is fueled by The Beast’s original PAF pickups and electronics.

As for why he’s decided to put his prized guitars up for sale, Marsden told Guitar World, “I’ve had them long enough. They’re fantastic instruments and I want them to find a good home. 

“It's a collection I’ve built up over a long time and it's about time they went instead of being stuck in my lockup,” he went on. “I don’t want my wife to have to deal with them after I’m gone.”

Because it’s The Beast, the Les Paul has been subjected to tight levels of security. It's being kept in ATB’s vault, and will only be shown by appointment to only “suitably qualified individuals” who would be capable of meeting the £999,995 (approx $1,327,000) price tag.

“Suitably qualified individuals” certainly narrows down the pool of prospective purchasers. We imagine Gibson wouldn’t mind adding it to its Certified Vintage Collection for heritage purposes, while Joe Bonamassa – who has had Burst-related dealings with ATB in the past – might be keen to add another to his ever-growing collection.

Whoever ends up buying it, due to The Beast’s history, we don’t expect the guitar to sit on ATB Guitars’ shelf for much longer, and whoever does snap it up will also receive a swathe of setlists, books, gig passes and more to go with it.

As mentioned above, The Beast has been listed alongside numerous other instruments owned by Marsden, including a 1952 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop, 1966 Gibson EDS-1275 and 1950 Gibson ES-5.

For more information on The Beast and to browse the whole Bernie Marsden Collection, head over to ATB Guitars.

’59 Bursts are among the most valuable guitars ever produced, and more examples have surfaced in recent years, including 'Sunny', a newly uncovered 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard from South Africa.

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Matt Owen

Matt is a Staff Writer, writing for Guitar World, Guitarist and Total Guitar. He has a Masters in the guitar, a degree in history, and has spent the last 16 years playing everything from blues and jazz to indie and pop. When he’s not combining his passion for writing and music during his day job, Matt records for a number of UK-based bands and songwriters as a session musician.