Sale of the week: Eric Clapton guitars

Sale: Eric Clapton Guitars and Amplifiers

Location: Bonhams, 580 Madison Avenue, New York. Tel: +1 212 644 9001

Date: Wednesday, March 9. On view Saturday and Sunday, noon-5pm; Monday 10am-8pm; Tuesday 10am- 5pm; day of sale 10am-1pm. Catalogue online at

Need to know: Even those who don’t proclaim to be fans of Eric Clapton must experience a tingle down the spine at the opening bars of “Layla” blasting out of a sound system – but if you’re Clapton-mad, imagine the thrill of being able to strum along to your favourite numbers with one of the great man’s guitars. The chance to land a genuine Clapton instrument arises on Wednesday, when the star sells off about 70 guitars and 70 amplifiers to raise funds for the Crossroads Centre in Antigua, the rehab clinic which he founded in 1998.

It’s not the first time that “Slow Hand” has had a clear-out to benefit the cause: In 1999 Christie’s raised more than $5m for 100 Clapton guitars, including “Brownie” (the 1956 Fender Stratocaster on which “Layla” was originally recorded) which fetched $497,500. But that was eclipsed in 2004 when 56 guitars representing the “cream” of Clapton’s collection garnered $7.4m, the highlight being his custom-built favourite “Blackie” – this was his main stage and recording instrument from 1970-1985 and it made a record $959,500.

Highlights: Such heady sums are not expected at this sale where estimates for the 138 lots range from $300-$30,000. Among the highlights is a Clapton-signed Blackie “recreation”, one of 275 specially built by the Fender custom shop and replicating every detail of the original – even down to the cigarette burns on the neck. For sale complete with a Clapton-style case and unused accessories, it is tipped to fetch $20,000-$30,000. A similar amount is expected for a 2005 Fender built for the Cream reunion concerts in 2005, while top acoustic models include a white Martin “Bellezza Bianca” that resulted from a co-operation between Clapton and Japanese fashion designer Hiroshi Fujiwara ($15,000-$20,000).

The sale also includes significant amplifiers and stage equipment used by Clapton with bands including Cream and Derek and the Dominoes, guitars donated by other stars such as Jeff Beck and JJ Cale and – for the truly dedicated rock guitar fan – a limited edition mobile telephone, signed by Clapton and with a Fender-style “sunburst” finish. Yours for an anticipated $600-$900 (“Layla” ringtone not included).

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