Given its mythical status in six-string lore, most people expected the Cream-era double-cut to sell for a rather princely sum, and now it has been confirmed the guitar eventually broke the $1,000,000 barrier in what turned out to be a record-breaking sale.
As for specifics, ‘The Fool’ sold for $1.27 million, making not only “the most expensive Clapton guitar ever sold at auction”, but also one of the most expensive guitars ever sold at auction outright.
The Fool’s $1,270,000 valuation places it in the top 10 of that list, sitting in between Duane Allman’s 1957 Gibson Les Paul (which sold in 2019 for $1.25 million) and David Gilmour’s 1954 Fender Stratocaster, which sold for $1.815 million, also in 2019.
Like we say, the sum isn’t particularly surprising. After all, this was the ‘64 SG that Clapton began playing while he and his Cream bandmates were piecing together Disraeli Gears. Painted by the Dutch art collective from whom the SG got its name, the guitar became an influential emblem of the psychedelic era and a symbol of the Summer of Love in 1967.
It was also used by Slowhand when Cream made their live US debut on March 25, 1967, at Manhattan’s RKO Theater, and became key to the development of Clapton’s trademark “woman tone”.
As heard on Sunshine of Your Love, White Room and countless others, the SG and its “woman tone” is noted for its harmonically rich and sustaining, yet warm and mellow sonic character.
After its stint with Clapton, The Fool was then passed onto George Harrison, from whom it eventually made its way to Jackie Lomax and Todd Rundgren, who held onto the guitar until 2000.
Seven-figure sums and history aside, the auction was also notable for the fact The Fool was purchased by one of the world’s most renowned vintage guitar collectors: businessman and Indianapolis Colts owner, Jim Irsay.
It’s yet another notable purchase from Irsay, who over the past 25 years has amassed one of the most awe-inspiring collections of music memorabilia on the planet.
Irsay’s own personal highlight from the collection, though, is Bob Dylan’s Newport Folk Festival sunburst Fender Strat – the same model that was once found in an attic – which he called “one of the most important instruments in rock ‘n’ roll history”.
As for The Fool, a portion of the auction proceeds of ‘The Fool’ sale will go towards supporting the Indianapolis Colts and Irsay family’s ‘Kicking the Stigma’ mental health awareness initiative.
Head over to Julien's Auctions to find out more.