David Gilmour’s guitar collection set several auction records when nearly 130 instruments went up for bid at Christie’s in New York today. The former Pink Floyd frontman’s most iconic instrument, the so-called Black Strat, fetched $3,975,000, well above the estimated range of $100,000 to $150,000. Other big-ticket items included a 1954 Fender Stratocaster with the serial number 0001, which was used on the recording of “Another Brick in the Wall Part 2” went for over $1.8 million, a 1958 Gretsch White Penguin went for $447,000, and a 1955 Gibson Goldtop Les Paul, also used on “Another Brick” sold for $447,000. Christie’s declared all to be “world auction records.”
An acoustic 1969 Martin D-35, which Gilmour has used as his main acoustic in the studio since 1971, went for a little over $1 million, surpassing a record set by a Martin owned by Eric Clapton. A 1974 Electric Console stele guitar that Gilmour used on live performances of “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” went for $300,000 (it was estimated at $2,000). The 1976 Ovation Custom Legend he used to demo “Comfortably Numb” on went for $399,000. The guitar Gilmour played at Live Aid, a 1983 Fender Strat, went for $187,500. A 1984 Fender Stratocaster that George Harrison once played went for $212,500, while a 1986 Strat that Ringo Starr played went for $100,000. And Gilmour’s primary guitar for recording and performing between 1988 and 2005, the “Red Strat,” went for $615,000.
The auction’s centerpiece, the Black Strat, has a unique history, which is why it was so desirable. Gilmour purchased it at the instrument shop Manny’s in New York in May 1970 to replace another Strat that was stolen. Over the years, he made many modifications to it, changing its pickups, switches, inputs, tuners, and neck in the quest for the perfect sound. He played the instrument on nearly all of Pink Floyd’s iconic recordings from 1970 to 1983, including Dark Side of the Moon, Wish You Were Here, Animals, and The Wall. In the mid Eighties, Fender introduced a new line of Stratocasters and Gilmour picked up the Red Strat, retiring the Black Strat and loaning it to the Hard Rock Cafe. It was displayed in the restaurant chain’s Dallas location until 1997. Gilmour started using it again live for Pink Floyd’s reunion with Roger Waters in 2005 at Live 8. He continued to record with it on his solo albums, but Fender wound up making a replica of it in 2006 that he liked.