ERIC CLAPTON's "The Fool" Guitar Sells For $1.27 Million At Julien's Auctions

November 17, 2023, 3 weeks ago

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ERIC CLAPTON's "The Fool" Guitar Sells For $1.27 Million At Julien's Auctions

Julien’s Auctions kicked off its blockbuster three-day music auction event Played, Worn And Torn: Rock N' Roll Iconic Guitars And Memorabilia in high gear last night, Thursday, November 16th, with the highly anticipated sale of one of the world’s most famous and important guitars of all time, Eric Clapton’s “The Fool” guitar. This circa 1964 Gibson SG electric guitar, first stage-played by the legendary guitarist while touring the United States with iconic rock band Cream, and famously known as Clapton’s “Fool,” sold for $1.27 million, the first time a Clapton guitar has sold for seven figures at auction and setting a world record for the sale of a Clapton guitar.

The guitar was acquired by The Jim Irsay Collection in Indianapolis with Larry Hall, Chairman of the world-renowned collection who bid on behalf of Jim Irsay at the auction in a bidding war among collectors all across the globe who participated live at the Hard Rock Cafe® Nashville. A portion of the auction proceeds of the Fool Guitar will go towards “Kicking The Stigma,” The Indianapolis Colts and Irsay Family’s mental health awareness initiative.

“Eric Clapton’s ‘The Fool,’ one of the most important guitars in all of rock music history has made history once again tonight at our auction,” said Darren Julien, President/Chief Executive Officer of Julien’s Auctions. “To have this legendary guitar that created and defined the classic rock sound that is an art masterpiece and symbol of the psychedelic ‘Summer of Love’ era go to Jim Irsay’s renowned memorabilia collection is another great privilege and hallmark of my career and a highlight of Julien’s Auctions twenty-year anniversary celebration this year.”

Named after the Dutch art collective, The Fool, who were commissioned to custom paint this 1964 Gibson electric guitar in a psychedelic finish, the art piece/guitar burst upon the world at a pivotal moment in music history.  Clapton had just left John Mayall's Bluesbreakers to form Cream with Jack Bruce and Ginger Baker. Coming off the release of their first album, Fresh Cream in 1966, their 1967 debut U.S. tour began at New York’s RKO 58th Street Theater with a cavalcade lineup of artists, including “Direct from England, The Cream and The Who.” Neither band had played in the United States before and despite Cream’s brief role in the show, their stunning custom-painted instruments, hairstyles and clothing made an unforgettable impact and launched their career as the world’s-first supergroup.

Clapton created his influential “woman tone” sound on this guitar that remained his principal guitar for most of his career with Cream and his musical work that followed. It is perhaps the pre-eminent surviving symbol of the “Summer of Love” and of psychedelia, and it has been reproduced on countless book and magazine covers, and discussed in countless articles and videos ever since its creation.

(Photos - Julien’s Auctions)

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