Smashed Gibson ES-355 reportedly behind Oasis’ split to go under the hammer

Noel Gallagher Gibson ES-355
(Image credit: Ross Gilmore/Redferns/Getty / Artpèges Gallery)

A Gibson ES-355 once owned and used by Noel Gallagher, which was smashed on the night iconic British rock band Oasis broke up more than a decade ago, is set to go up for auction.

As the story goes, Gallagher’s Gibson ES-355 – an electric guitar model the Oasis man has played almost religiously throughout his career – was present prior to the band’s set at the 2009 Rock en Seine festival in Paris.

Minutes before they were set to take the stage, however, a bust-up between Noel and his brother Liam ultimately resulted in the destruction of the guitar, with Noel alleging that Liam had smashed his prized six-string during the altercation.

The damage was extensive: as per photos supplied by auction host Artpèges, the neck of the guitar had been completely removed from the body.

Following the fight that night, Oasis canceled their headlining performance and called it quits for good, with Noel announcing in a statement that he “simply could not go on working with Liam a day longer”.

Liam Gallagher has since denied smashing the ES-355, claiming that Noel had in fact destroyed one of his guitars during the argument instead.

“No, it was the other way round, he smashed one of mine,“ he said in 2009. “I’ve still got it in pieces. It’s a shame, it was a nice guitar.“

Gallagher had become almost synonymous with the ES-355 model at this point. Purchased alongside another, almost-identical model – save for a shorter pickguard – between 1996 and 1997, the Gibson in question was used heavily in the studio and throughout 2008’s Dig Out Your Soul tour.

Noel Gallagher Gibson ES-355

(Image credit: Artpèges Gallery)

As for its significance in Gallagher’s playing career, the axe usually played second fiddle, at least as a live guitar, to Noel's other ES-355, which he can be seen playing in the picture at the top of the page.

Two years after the guitar was smashed, Gallagher’s ES-355 was restored by Philippe Dubreuille, who has worked on instruments for Jeff Beck, Iggy Pop and Mark Ronson. After it was salvaged, the Gibson returned to active duty as part of Gallagher’s High Flying Birds six-string lineup.

In Artpèges' own words, “This ES-355 symbolizes on its own the soul and the history of the group: smashed in the last storm of August 28, 2009 at the Rock en Seine festival, it embodies the intense and tumultuous career of one of the most iconic ‘90s group.

“It was one of Noel Gallagher’s most important guitars,” it continued. “This ES-355 has become the symbol of Oasis’ breakup.”

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Accompanying the guitar, which will be sold in its original hardcase, will be a letter of authenticity signed by Noel Gallagher himself. 

The auction is slated to take place on May 17, with the Gibson ES-355 carrying a starting price of €150,000. The auctioneers estimate the guitar will eventually sell for more than €500,000 (approximately $550,000).

If such a prediction comes to pass, Gallagher’s Gibson will find itself well outside the bracket of most expensive guitars sold at auction, which is currently headed up by Kurt Cobain’s $6,010,000 Martin D-18E.

For more information, head over to Artpèges.

It's not the only high-profile guitar auction to be announced in recent weeks, after Kurt Cobain's Smells Like Teen Spirit Fender Mustang was slated to hit the auction block for the very first time later this year.

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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.