George Harrison’s Gibson ‘58 “ransom” Les Paul – which helped recover his stolen Lucy model – sells at auction for $312,500

George Harrison and the Gibson Les Paul ransom burst
(Image credit: Steve Morley/Redferns via Getty / Heritage Auctions)

George Harrison’s 1958 Gibson Les Paul “ransom” Burst, which was used as a bargaining chip to ensure the recovery of his stolen Lucy electric guitar, has sold at auction for more than $300,000.

With a starting bid of $250,000 and a pre-set Buyer’s Premium, the guitar was purchased after just one bid, meaning the storied six-string was sold through Heritage Auctions for the minimum amount of $312,500.

The 1957 Lucy guitar is one of the most well-known Les Pauls in music history. Having passed through the hands of John Sebastian and Rick Derringer, the guitar was later gifted to Harrison by Eric Clapton in 1968, after Slowhand had purchased the guitar from a store in New York.

It quickly became a key player for Harrison in the guitarist’s last few years with the Beatles, though was stolen in 1973 from Harrison’s Beverly Hills home, along with a number of other items.

The ‘57 Les Paul – which was originally a Goldtop and later refinished with a unique Cherry colorway – was sold to Whalin’s Sound City Music Store on Sunset Boulevard, and subsequently sold to a musician from Mexico named Miguel Ochoa, before Harrison could retrieve it.

Ochoa took Lucy back to his home country with him, but was soon contacted by Harrison, who offered an exchange in an effort to be reunited with his cherished single-cut.

Agreeing to the exchange, Ochoa asked for a Fender Precision Bass and a replacement Les Paul – specifically, a ‘58 Burst Les Paul, which would later become known as the ransom Les Paul.

The guitar was selected from Norman’s Rare Guitars and delivered to Ochoa in exchange for the safe return of Lucy. After serving Ochoa for a decade, the ‘58 ransom Les Paul was sold to Robert Truman – owner of Nadine’s Music and Ochoa’s boss – in a bid to raise funds to pay for a house. 

It exchanged hands from musician to musician, before going up for auction earlier this month.

As predicted, it didn’t make it on to the list of most expensive guitars sold at auction. In fact, it came more than half-a-million dollars below the lowest entry on that list, which is currently Eric Clapton’s $959,000 “Blackie” Stratocaster.

Ochoa’s ransom Les Paul is almost identical to how it arrived from the factory, though, featuring original frets and original pots, and only replacement early Kluson tuning machines.

Gibson 1958 Ransom Les Paul

(Image credit: Heritage Auctions)

To find out more about the ransom Les Paul, head over to Heritage Auctions (opens in new tab).

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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.