Rare Left-Handed 1959 Gibson Les Paul Brings in $194,000 at Heritage Auction

A rare left-handed 1959 Gibson Les Paul Standard Sunburst (Serial No. 90136) took in $194,500 this past Saturday, October 27, as part of Heritage Vintage Guitars & Musical Instruments Signature Auction in Beverly Hills.

As we reported last month, the guitar had a pre-sale estimate of $125,000.

The guitar, one of only two lefty '59 'bursts ever made (and one of only four lefty 'bursts made out of 1,600 built between 1958 and 1960) used to belong to tennis star John McEnroe and graced the cover of a 2009 issue of Guitar Aficionado magazine (Vol. I No. 4).

But was it an authentic 1959? A small but visible split between the left and right halves of the flame maple top has long fed speculation that the instrument had been doctored, but Heritage’s team of appraisers were certain it was the genuine article.

The guitar was part of a consignment of instruments and equipment from the United States Marshals Service, with profits from the sales benefiting victims of the Aspen Energy Oil and Gas Investment Scheme.

“The 1959 left-handed ‘burst is about as rare and famous as any guitar in the world,” Mike Gutierrez, consignment director at Heritage Auctions, told artdaily.org. "Collectors came after it in a very serious way, resulting in the almost $200,000 price realized. That enthusiasm translated to the rest of the offerings in the auction, as well, resulting in a 96.5 percent sell-through rate by total value.”

Artdaily.org listed some other auction highlights, including a lefty 1960 Gibson Les Paul Standard Sunburst (Serial No. 01475), one of just two known to exist, the other one belonging to Paul McCartney. The guitar took in $134,500, well over its pre-sale estimate of $60,000.

A circa-1977 Overdrive Special Dumble OD-50WC brown suede amp from the estate of Point Blank Guitarist Kim Davis, finished at $35,000. A 1956 Fender Stratocaster sold for $30,000, and a 1953 Fender Esquire came in at $23,125.

All prices include Buyer’s Premium.

For other auction highlights, visit artdaily.org.

Photos: Heritage

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Damian Fanelli
Editor-in-Chief, Guitar World

Damian is Editor-in-Chief of Guitar World magazine. In past lives, he was GW’s managing editor and online managing editor. He's written liner notes for major-label releases, including Stevie Ray Vaughan's 'The Complete Epic Recordings Collection' (Sony Legacy) and has interviewed everyone from Yngwie Malmsteen to Kevin Bacon (with a few memorable Eric Clapton chats thrown into the mix). Damian, a former member of Brooklyn's The Gas House Gorillas, was the sole guitarist in Mister Neutron, a trio that toured the U.S. and released three albums. He now plays in two NYC-area bands.