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Clapton gets $959,500 for favorite guitar

Eric Clapton’s favorite guitar for 15 years fetched $959,500 at auction Thursday. The singer earned more than $7 million in auction for an Antigua drug center.
/ Source: Reuters

Eric Clapton’s favorite guitar for 15 years fetched $959,500 at auction Thursday, easily eclipsing the record set by the sale of another guitar by the legendary rock musician five years ago.

The Fender Stratocaster, nicknamed “Blackie,” was one of 88 guitars and other items Clapton and other musicians donated to raise money for Crossroads Centre Antigua, a drug and alcohol rehabilitation center in the West Indies.

Christie’s, the New York auction house handling the sale, had estimated Blackie’s price at $100,000 to $150,000

The auction brought in a total of $7,438,624. That’s nearly half again the $5 million generated at Christie’s 1999 sale, which also benefited Crossroads.

At the 1999 auction, an anonymous bidder paid what was then a record $497,500 for “Brownie,” a 1956 Fender Stratocaster that Clapton used on the Derek and the Dominos hit “Layla.”

“Blackie” was practically the only guitar Clapton used on stage and in the studio from late 1970 to 1985. A composite of three guitars made in 1956 and 1957, it is on the cover of Clapton’s 1977 album “Slowhand,” which includes such hits as “Cocaine” and “Wonderful Tonight.”

Christie’s said it sold all 88 of the selections, most of which were donated by Clapton, 59.

Three other guitars also brought more than $500,000 each.

A Gibson ES-335 that Clapton bought in 1964 and used through stints with The Yardbirds, Cream, John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers and Blind Faith as well as his solo career sold for $847,500 — more than 10 times the high end of an estimate of $60,000 to $80,000.

The 1939 C.F. Martin & Co. acoustic guitar that Clapton played during his famous MTV “Unplugged” appearance in 1992 sold for $791,500. It also had been expected to sell for between $60,000 and $80,000.

A composite Fender Stratocaster, circa 1965 and used by the late Stevie Ray Vaughan throughout his career, sold for $623,500, well above the estimated range of $15,000 to $20,000. It was donated by his brother, Jimmie Vaughan.

Clapton, a longtime Antigua resident who has spoken openly about his recovery from drug and alcohol abuse, founded Crossroads in 1998 and is its chairman of the board.