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John Lennon's long-lost Help! acoustic expected to break auction records

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John Lennon’s 1964 Framus 5/024 Hootenanny famously played on the title track of The Beatles’ 1965 album Help! – and believed lost for more than 50 years – is heading to auction next month, where it’s expected to break records.

The famous Framus can also be seen in the star-studded Help! film for the performance of You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, as well as in editions of The Beatles fan magazine. It can be heard on tracks like It’s Only Love and I’ve Just Seen A Face, plus it’s reported to feature on Michelle, Polythene Pam, Girl, and Norwegian Wood too.

At some point after the recording of Rubber Soul, the guitar moved from Lennon/Harrison to Gordon Waller of pop duo Peter & Gordon (probably best known for A World Without Love, released in 1964). From there, the historically important 12-string was gifted to a road manager and then disappeared for more than 50 years.

The well-traveled instrument was recently discovered in an attic in rural England, found while the home owners were packing up for a move. They contacted the Beverley Hills auction house, and Julien’s Auctions’ founders hopped over the pond for a closer look.

John Lennon's 1964 Framus 5/024 Hootenanny is the headline act for the upcoming Music Icons sale, where it's expected to set new auction records
John Lennon’s 1964 Framus 5/024 Hootenanny is the headline act for the upcoming Music Icons sale, where it’s expected to set new auction records

Julien’s Auctions

The guitar – serial number #51083 – has a spruce top in natural finish with mahogany back and sides, a mahogany neck topped by a rosewood fingerboard rocking 19 frets, with a trapeze tailpiece and floating rosewood bridge. During the visit, the original Australian-made guitar case was also recovered from the trash heap.

“The discovery of John Lennon’s Help! guitar that was believed to be lost is considered the greatest find of a Beatles guitar since Paul McCartney’s lost 1961 Höfner bass guitar,” said Darren Julien, co-founder and Executive Director at Julien’s Auctions. “Finding this remarkable instrument is like finding a lost Rembrandt or Picasso, and it still looks and plays like a dream after having been preserved in an attic for more than 50 years. To awaken this sleeping beauty is a sacred honor and is a great moment for Music, Julien’s, Beatles and Auction history.”

Lennon’s recovered icon is said to be in tip-top condition, and will now headline the upcoming Julien’s Auctions Music Icons sale at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York on May 29 and 30 (and online as well). It’s been given a somewhat conservative estimate of between US$600,000 and $800,000.

George Harrison picking away at the Framus 5/024 Hootenanny while John Lennon looks on
George Harrison picking away at the Framus 5/024 Hootenanny while John Lennon looks on

Beatles Book Photo Library

It’s expected to exceed that by some margin though – perhaps eclipsing the auction price of Lennon’s “She Loves You” guitar and even putting Kurt Cobain’s record-setting ’59 Martin D-18E in its sights. A book titled “The Beatles: Photographs From The Set of Help!” will accompany the guitar and case.

For some context, and a reminder of the importance of provenance for such things, Framus 5/024 12 Hootenanny guitars not associated with Lennon frequently appear at auctions and on music resale platforms like Reverb for a fraction of the anticipated Music Icons price.

The auction house is also highlighting other notable additions to next month’s sale, including a rose-sparkle Fender P bass from U2’s Adam Clayton, a stage-played Kramer six-string used by Mötley Crüe co-founder Mick Mars, a hand-written setlist penned by Kurt Cobain, and selections from the wardrobes of Tina Turner, Amy Winehouse, Joan Jett, Michael Jackson and Freddie Mercury.

Items from the auction go on display at the Hard Rock Cafe Piccadilly Circus (in London) from today, before making their way to New York next month for a pre-sale exhibition and subsequent auction. The video below has more.

MUSIC ICONS | Check Your Attic! | John Lennon’s Framus “HELP!” Hootenanny

Source: Julien’s Auctions

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