A rare Vox guitar played by John Lennon and George Harrison sold for $408,000 Saturday, May 18, in New York City.
The guitar, which was auctioned by Julien's Auctions at the Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square, brought in considerably more than its pre-sale estimate of $200,000 to $300,000.
The striking custom guitar has a special place in Beatles history. It was built by Mike Bennett with electronics by Dickey Denney of Vox in 1966 and presented to the group the following year while they were at work on Magical Mystery Tour. Harrison played the guitar while practicing “I Am the Walrus” during the Magical Mystery Tour sessions, and Lennon used it while recording a video session for the song “Hello, Goodbye” from the same period.
Lennon later gifted the guitar to Beatles pal “Magic Alex” Mardas, whom the Beatles had hired to design their Apple Studio in Savile Row. A plaque on the back of the guitar reads “To Magic Alex / Alexi thank you for been [sic] a friend / 2-5-1967 John.” Mardas says the date is a reference to his 25th birthday, which preceded the date on which he received the guitar.
The guitar is notable for its unique scroll design. It features a mahogany hollow body with a single f-hole, a 24-fret rosewood fretboard with rectangular inlays, and electronics that include six pushbuttons for treble, bass, top boost, mid-boost, fuzz and repeat. The headstock is labeled "Vox Custom.” Though the guitar was not originally designed as part of the Vox Kensington line, it has since become known as such.