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UK resident finds filthy Gibson Les Paul she kept in a closet is worth $190,000 – and sells it to Joe Bonamassa

1960 Gibson Les Paul
(Image credit: David Libson-Hochenberg/ATB Guitars)

A 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard that spent 25 years gathering dust in a closet has been sold to Joe Bonamassa in a deal reported to be worth more than £150,000 (approx. $190,000).

The owner, an unnamed UK resident, was entrusted with the guitar from her father who reportedly purchased the instrument in 1967 for £50 (approximately $1,300 in today’s money). 

Knowing it was unplayable but likely still worth something, she was about to insure it for £5,000 before she contacted UK dealer ATB Guitars for a second opinion. 

"She’d searched online for ‘Gibson Les Paul’ and had come up with values of around five thousand pounds and was expecting to adjust her household premium accordingly,” ATB owner Mike Long told our sister site Guitar Player (opens in new tab)

“A couple of weeks later, she popped into the shop with a five-latch ‘Cali girl’ case and I thought, ‘This looks interesting!’ When I opened the case, it was the filthiest guitar I’d ever seen. It had been stored in a closet, unplayed, since the ‘70s!”

On closer inspection, Long confirmed his suspicions that it was indeed one of the coveted 1,500 ‘Bursts made by Gibson between 1958 and 1960. 

“The finish is all original, and there are no major breaks or repairs,” Long explains. “But it’s had a Bigsby added, the PAF humbuckers have been in and out, and the original pickguard has had a switch added.”

Long said he soon knew what it was and told the owner: “I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news… The bad news is it’s totally unplayable and is in terrible condition. The good news is that once it’s been refurbished it’ll be worth about £175,000.”

The instrument has since been purchased by Joe Bonamassa in a deal that The Independent reports (opens in new tab) is worth “between £150,000 and £200,000”. Bonamassa plans to restore the instrument and take it on tour in the future. The owner meanwhile, as you might imagine, is said to be “very pleased with the outcome.” 

“It’s not every day a ‘Burst walks through the door with someone who has no idea what it is or how much it’s worth,” Long reflected in his chat with Guitar Player. “I’m amazed this still happens. They had no idea what they had at all.”

Head to Guitar Player (opens in new tab) to read the full, remarkable story of the long lost ‘Burst.

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Matt is a freelance journalist who has spent the last decade interviewing musicians for the likes of Total Guitar, Guitarist, Guitar World, MusicRadar, NME.com, DJ Mag and Electronic Sound. In 2020, he launched CreativeMoney.co.uk (opens in new tab), which aims to share the ideas that make creative lifestyles more sustainable. He plays guitar, but should not be allowed near your delay pedals.