Bob Dylan's Famous Newport Folk Festival Strat Sells for Nearly $1 Million

This past Friday, December 6, a Fender Strat that once belonged to Bob Dylan sold for $965,000 at Christie's in New York City, setting a new world auction record for any guitar (not including private sales), according to a statement from the auction house.

A Christie's spokesperson said the sunburst '64 Strat was bought by an unidentified bidder.

"A tremendous amount of international interest was generated at the time of the sale's announcement, and [the] result justifies the mythic status of this guitar in the annals of music history," said Tom Lecky, Christie's specialist and the sale's auctioneer.

The guitar, which was expected to bring in from $300,000 to $500,000, was auctioned along with five sheets of handwritten and typed lyrics that would eventually wind up in "In the Darkness of Your Room," "Absolutely Sweet Marie" and other Dylan tunes. The lyrics were found inside the Strat case.

The famous guitar — the one with which Dylan "went electric" — had spent the past 50 or so years with the New Jersey family of Vic Quinto, a pilot who worked with Dylan's manager. As the legend goes, Dylan accidentally left the Strat on the plane Quinto was flying. According to Quinto's daughter, Dawn Paterson, Dylan's management company never responded to Quinto's questions about what to do with the instrument.

Although Dylan's camp originally denied the authenticity of the guitar, Paterson had it examined and certified on PBS's History Detectives TV show last year (See out the video below). In July 2013, Paterson ended a legal dispute with Dylan that allowed her to sell the guitar and lyrics.

Previously, Eric Clapton's black Fender Strat, better known as "Blackie," held the record for a guitar sold at an auction, selling for $959,500 in 2004, a Christie's spokeswoman told CNN. That price was later exceeded when American investor and philanthropist Paul Allen bought Jimi Hendrix's Woodstock Strat for an alleged $1.3 million in a private sale.

For more information about the guitar, including a photo, visit

Photo: Screen shot from PBS's History Detectives YouTube video below.

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. 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 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. He now plays in two NYC-area bands.