Guitars played by David Gilmour, the Edge, Eddie Van Halen, Elvis Presley, Eric Clapton and more rake in huge figures in all-star auction

Electric and acoustic guitars
(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

A recent auction hosted by Julien’s Auctions, which featured a number of electric guitars and acoustic guitars played by the likes of Eddie Van Halen, The Edge, David Gilmour, Eric Clapton and more, brought in nearly $5 million as part of the company’s two-day Icons & Idols: Rock 'N' Roll event.

The highest-selling instrument of the event was Eric Clapton’s stage-played 1968 Martin D-45, which was used at Derek and the Dominos' debut performance at the Lyceum Theater, London, in June 1970, and sold for a staggering $625,000.

Clapton’s D-45, which the guitarist also used to write and record a handful of his hits, including Layla, more than doubled its original estimated auction price of $300,000.

Martin D-45

Eric Clapton's Martin D-45 (Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the auction saw the Edge’s stage-played 1976 Gibson Explorer – used mainly as a backup during the 1987 Joshua Tree tour – sell for a sensational $437,500, with the U2 guitarist’s concert-used Gibson Les Paul Standard also going for $96,000.

The Edge’s U2 bandmate Bono had one of his own stage-played and hand-signed guitars up for auction – a 2005 Gretsch Irish Falcon G61361 – which sold for $115,200.

There were a fair few Fenders up for grabs, too. A ‘57 Fender Stratocaster reissue that had been owned and stage-played by David Gilmour during Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason tours in ‘87, ‘88 and ‘89 – affectionately known as Cream no. 2, back-up to Cream no. 1 – fetched $200,000.

The Strat had also seen action during the band’s 1990 show at Knebworth, and was taken on the road for their The Division Bell tour in 1994. A second Gilmour Strat, a custom-made black number signed by the man himself, sold for $51,200 in support of Teenage Cancer Trust.

Elsewhere, an EVH-played Frankenstrat, which was gifted by the late Eddie Van Halen to childhood friend Kevan Hill – who had been bandmates with Eddie and his brother Alex in their first band, Broken Combs, in 1964 – was included on the roster, and sold for $83,000.

That guitar, which also sported the signatures of Eddie and Alex Van Halen, featured some suitably EVH-style tweaks, including bike reflectors and five 2012-era Van Halen picks.

EVH Frankenstrat

Eddie Van Halen-signed Frankenstrat (Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

Plenty of other six-figure six-strings featured throughout the auction, with Amy Winehouse’s Daphne Blue axe selling for $153,600 and an Elvis Presley-played 1972 Martin D-28 going for $187,500.

Winehouse had played her Daphne Blue piece during a string of early shows, including a performance on Later… With Jools Holland in 2003 and in the video for Take the Box. Presley, meanwhile, had extensively donned his D-28 in the mid-to-late ‘70s both on-stage and off-stage.

To explore the entire Icons & Idols: Rock 'N' Roll lot, head over to Julien's Auctions.

The sale of Clapton's prized Martin D-45 comes off the back of intense controversy surrounding the guitarist, who recently doubled down on his anti-vaxx stance and claimed that Rolling Stone had “helped break up Cream”.

Clapton’s comments were made after fellow blues guitar player Robert Cray disassociated himself with Slowhand, saying, “I’d just rather not associate with somebody who’s on the extreme and being so selfish.”

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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.