Julien’s Auctions 'Music Icons' lot, featuring Eddie Van Halen and Prince-played guitars, rakes in nearly $5 million in three days

Julien's Auctions Music Icons lot
(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

A recent online auction held by Julien’s Auctions brought in nearly $5 million in three days, after it sold a series of signed six-strings, artist-played electric guitars, unique items of music memorabilia and some rare pieces of artwork.

Chief among the artifacts sold as part of the company's ‘Music Icons’ lot was a collection of five Charvel Art Series guitars that had been stage-played and signed by the late guitar god Eddie Van Halen, which sold for a total of $210,225. 

Two black-and-yellow Bumblebee-inspired models, sold for $38,400 and $41,600, were up for grabs alongside a red-and white-Frankenstein Mark II-styled six-string, which ultimately sold for $40,625.

A reverse-colorway Charvel sold for $38,400, with the final black-and-silver striped EVH-signed Art Series guitar fetching $51,200.

As per the original line's spec sheet, each axe was hand-striped by Van Halen himself during production, and sought to reproduce the feel and tones of his most iconic guitars.

The models in question were wielded at a series of shows between 2004 and 2012, and came with extensive photographic evidence, video footage corroboration and letters of authenticity.

Elsewhere in the six-string department, a Prince Blue Cloud guitar from 1984, which was commissioned by the pop guitar icon and built by Andy Beech, fetched a whopping six-figure sum of $281,250.

The Prince-played offering sold nearly five times its original estimate of $60,000, and sported a pickup cavity signed by Prince’s former guitar tech Zeke Clark. A Paisley Park inventory tag was also included, as was a hardcase adorned with “PRN Productions”.

Prince Cloud guitar

(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

Other noteworthy guitar sales include a 1995 Fender Telecaster played and signed by Tom Petty, which sold for $37,500, and a Cort GA-MEDX OP acoustic guitar signed by Paul McCartney and Idris Elba, which brought in $22,400. 

The auction was not wholly resigned to the six-string sphere and featured an array of unique music artifacts from all corners of the music world.

An Alex Van Halen-owned Ludwig drum kit, which featured during the 1980 World Invasion tour and at the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Museum, sold for a staggering $230,400.

One of the auction's biggest sellers was Kurt Cobain’s ultra-rare self-portrait caricature. Despite carrying an estimated value of $10,000, the sketch sold for an eye-watering $281,500 – over 28 times its original price.

The picture, drawn on a piece of TNT Music Centre-watermarked paper, sports a sketch of Cobain wielding a guitar, and carries the inscription, "I don't know how to play and I don't give a hoot!!"

To peruse the comprehensive catalog of pieces sold in the recent Music Icons auction, head over to Julien’s Auctions.

Kurt Cobain sketch Julien's Auctions

(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

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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.