The guitar played by gypsy jazz legend Django Reinhardt in his most iconic image is going up for auction

Django Reinhardt / Fred Guy Levin De Luxe guitar
(Image credit: William Gottlieb / Getty / Propstore Auction)

The archtop acoustic guitar played by jazz legend Django Reinhardt in his most iconic photograph is going under the hammer today (November 10) at London’s PropStore Auction.

The Levin De Luxe was actually owned by Duke Ellington’s guitarist Fred Guy, but was played by Reinhardt during the gypsy jazz guitar player’s visit to New York City in 1946. 

At that point it was captured in an image by the photographer William P. Gottlieb – the man responsible for most of the iconic photographs associated with the so-called ‘Golden Age of American jazz’ in the early 20th century.

Django Reinhardt / Fred Guy Levin De Luxe guitar

(Image credit: Propstore Auction)

Gottlieb also took a picture of the Levin being played by Guy, and the instrument remained in the Duke Ellington man’s hands until his death in 1971, before it passed to his wife and, eventually, a family friend. 

Now it’s come up for sale via auction in the UK and it gives us a chance to take a closer look at an instrument that has (somewhat misleadingly) gone down in jazz iconography. 

If you’re unfamiliar with Levin, it was a Swedish brand, based out of Gothenberg, Sweden’s second largest city. Guy bought the instrument from Waidele Musik after the Duke Ellington Orchestra stopped in the city for a tour date in 1939.

The instrument features a spruce top with two f-holes, eyecatching flame maple back and sides and a tortoiseshell pickguard. 

It’s finished in sunburst, with “brass color” hardware and the lot also includes various picks, a thoroughly-aged leather guitar strap and “antique” strings that were kept in the case by Guy.

The instrument still looks stunning, but is not without damage, which is perhaps not surprising, given its near-century on Earth. As such, the Levin is said to have suffered several small cracks and dents and is missing a fret marker (though it’s included loose in the sale).

The Levin De Luxe is expected to fetch between $85,000 to $170,000 at auction today (November 10).

At that price, it will likely fall outside of the realms of the most expensive guitars sold at auction, but it’s nonetheless a genuinely iconic piece.

For more information, head to Propstore Auction.

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Matt Parker

Matt is a staff writer for Before that he spent 10 years as a freelance music journalist, interviewing artists for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar,, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched, which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.