Nile Rodgers to sell over 100 guitars and basses in mammoth We Are Family Foundation charity auction

Nile Rodgers auction guitars
(Image credit: Christie's)

Nile Rodgers is putting over 100 electric guitars, acoustic guitars and bass guitars up for auction as part of a huge We Are Family Foundation charity event.

Hosted by New York-based auction house Christie’s, the auction includes a number of instruments that Rodgers has used throughout his prolific career, and will also see the sale of guitar amps, synthesizers, mixing boards, clothing and classic cars.

According to the Chic guitarist, “Every guitar has a unique story,” with each instrument coming straight from Rodgers’ own personal collection.

Money raised from the auction will go towards supporting the We Are Family Foundation, which is dedicated to “creating programs that promote cultural diversity while nurturing and mentoring the vision, talents and ideas of young people who are positively changing the world”.

Chief among the electric offerings is a 2015 Fender Stratocaster Hitmaker Prototype, based on Rodgers’ original Strat that he bought in Miami in 1973 prior to Chic serving as the opening act on the Jackson Five's world tour.

As told by Rodgers, “The Jackson Five were playing Dancing Machine… and it just sounded so awesome. Bernard [Edwards, Chic co-founder] looked at me and was like, 'Man, will you go get a Strat?' At this point in my life I was playing jazz guitars, and I wasn’t quite convinced."

After being persuaded by another musician to pick up a Strat, Rodgers eventually traded his jazz guitar for the Fender that would go on to become The Hitmaker – the instrument that the 2015 Strat is based on.

“Little did I know that guitar would shape my destiny,” Rodgers commented.

Another stand-out Strat-style guitar is Rodgers’ Strat-style Tokai, which he used to record Daft Punk's Get Lucky.

As well as featuring a wealth of Fenders – including Strats from ‘57, ‘63 and ‘65, and four individual Telecaster models – the collection also includes a fair share of Gibsons. 

There are 11 Les Pauls on offer – among which is a ‘56 Custom, TransPerformance-equipped self-tuning Classic and Chic-signed Studio – as well as numerous ES models and an SG signed by AC/DC.

The Nile Rodgers Collection also contains multiple archtops – a ‘38 D’Angelico New Yorker lines up alongside a ‘40 Gibson ES-300, ‘51 Epiphone Zephyr DeLuxe Regent, ‘80 Ibanez Joe Pass-signed JP-20 and ‘45 Gretsch Synchromatic 300.

Rodgers has also made room for some rather eye-catching entries, such as the Tokai Talbo Blazing Fire, Roland G-707 Synthesizer guitar, Burns Bison, ESP double-neck and Alembic Orion models.

And, as you probably expected, there are a bunch of acoustics, too, chief among which is the ‘40 Henri Selmer Django Reinhardt, ‘41 Gibson ES-125, ‘87 Guild GF50-12NT 12-string, ‘47 Martin D-18 and ‘81 Gibson Chet Atkins CE Classical.

Last but not least is the bass guitar department, which is headed up by a 1985 ESP 400 Series model – an instrument that featured heavily on David Bowie’s Let’s Dance record, on which Rodgers was recruited to play.

“David Bowie had come to my apartment, and he wanted to hear what I was working on,” said Rodgers, before explaining he had growing concerns that Bowie would find his material too “avant garde”.

However, Bowie was undeterred. According to Rodgers, the late pop legend merely said, “If you do a record for me half as cool as that I’ll be the happiest man in the world.”

The ESP is joined by one other four-string: a futuristic-looking headless Philip Kubicki Factor.

Parting ways with his collection isn’t going to be easy for Rodgers, who reflected, “Those are just my guitars, but when I’m thinking about them leaving my world and leaving my life, all of a sudden I get this strange connection, maybe like parents feel when their kids go off to college or something.”

However, the funk legend commented there was no better motivator for selling his gear than helping the We Are Family Foundation, saying, “These are kids who come from nowhere, and you realize how brilliant they are. 

“They just need help,” he continued. “We go around the world and find these kids and help amplify their voices and their messages. I couldn’t think of a better motivator for selling my guitars.’

Said Gemma Sudlow, Head of Christie’s Private & Iconic Collections, “To work with Nile Rodgers in helping bring his collection to auction has been a privilege and a thrill. It’s incredible to work with this talented and magnanimous man.”

Registration for the auction is currently open, with bidding set to commence on December 16.

To find out more, head over to Christie’s.

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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.