Eddie Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher Kramer sells at auction for nearly $4,000,000

Eddie Van Halen's Hot For Teacher Kramer
(Image credit: Van Halen/YouTube / Sotheby's)

Eddie Van Halen’s custom-made Kramer electric guitar that featured in the iconic music video for Van Halen’s Hot For Teacher has sold at auction for nearly $4,000,000.

The eye-watering $3,932,000 price for which the mythical model eventually sold smashed the auction house’s upper estimation for the guitar by just shy of $1,000,000, with Sotheby’s predicting the guitar to fetch anywhere between two and three million dollars.

Instead, the Hot For Teacher six-string got closer to the four mill mark and, as many anticipated when news of the auction first broke, comfortably makes it onto the list of the most expensive guitars sold at auction (which we'll now update posthaste).

It’s not an unconvincing inclusion, either – the Kramer debuts in fourth spot, dislodging the $2.7m Reach Out to Asia Fender Stratocaster and coming in just $43,000 below David Gilmour’s Black Strat, whose third spot stays intact.

That means only two other guitars have ever sold for more at auction, both of which were once owned by Kurt Cobain: the $4,550,000 Smells Like Teen Spirit Mustang, and $6,010,000 Martin D-18E, which was used for Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged set.

Officially named the Kramer CO176, the guitar was built by Paul Unkert and – as per Sotheby’s listing – acted as one of Van Halen’s primary instruments in ‘83 and ‘84.

Specs for the guitar include a 22-fret, bolt-on maple neck, a sole Seymour Duncan humbucker and, unsurprisingly, a lone volume knob and Floyd Rose bridge.

As for how it came to auction, Sotheby's reported that Van Halen gifted the guitar to Gregg Emerson – the band’s retiring drum tech – around 1990, who then passed it on to his nephew. The Kramer was subsequently sold to Neal's Music in Huntington Beach, California, who then sold it to its pre-auction owner.

The guitar has shipped to its new owner along with a letter of provenance from Paul Unkert, a signed photo from Eddie Van Halen, its original case, and the straight jacket and white gloves worn by Van Halen in the music video in which it starred.

To find out more, head over to Sotheby’s.

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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.