The good thing about paving the way for generations of rock stars is that you tend to collect a bunch of rich fans. Over the weekend, an auction of late guitar innovator Les Paul’s guitars and other memorabilia raised almost $5 million for the Les Paul Foundation, his music education and innovation charity.
The June 8-9 auction was held at Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills. Among the most popular guitars were Paul’s 1951 Fender No-Caster, which was expected to bring in around $50,000 but went for $216,000, a 1982 Gibson Les Paul ($180,000) and a 1940s Epiphone Zephyr ($144,000). The rock legend’s favorite recording console (expected to sell for $50,000 or so, brought in $106,250) and research notes ($28,125) also caused bidding frenzies.
Paul’s 1968 Prototype Gibson Les Paul Custom Recording Model and 1955 Steinway & Sons Grand Model B in Ebony (his favorite piano) were among the other famous instruments featured in the weekend auction. Personal items like jackets, chairs, clocks, portraits and sheet music made up the rest of the auction’s 700-piece catalog.
Paul was born Lester Polsfuss in Waukesha, Wisconsin in 1915. Over the course of his seven decades in the music industry, he invented the solid-body electric guitar, popularized the practice of overdubbing audio and inspired generations of guitarists with his unique playing style. In 1988, “The Waukesha Wizard” was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, where he’s been immortalized with a permanent exhibit.
The music legend passed away in 2009 at the age of 94, but his memory and influence will live on through future generations thanks to fundraisers like this weekend’s auction. Rock on!