A Fender Stratocaster that once belonged to Bob Dylan has set a six-stringed record at auction. Dylan used the electric guitar at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, eliciting boos from fans who expected an acoustic set.
The guitar fetched $965,000 (almost 705,000 euros) at auction at Christie's in New York on Friday, just eclipsing the former record of $959,500 for a Fender, nicknamed "Blackie," belonging to Eric Clapton. The price vastly exceeded Christie's pre-sale estimate of $300,000-500,000.
An unidentified telephone bidder secured the 1964 Stratocaster, with a classic sunburst finish, as part of a special auction dedicated to Dylan material.
Dylan used the guitar to play an infamous set at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, where purist fans booed him for going electric. The singer-songwriter had also played the Stratocaster in recording sessions for his 1965 album "Bringing It All Back Home" - one side of which was electric.
"A tremendous amount of international interest was generated at the time of the sale's announcement, and today's result justifies the mythic status of this guitar in the annals of music history," Christie's specialist Tom Lecky said in a statement.
Five lyrics sheets, either handwritten or typed, were also up for auction at Christie's on Friday. Only one was sold, a transcript of "I Wanna Be Your Lover," fetching $20,000.
The Times They (Were) A-Changin'
Even though purists present at the Rhode Island festival 48 years ago might well have burned what's now the most expensive guitar on earth, if they'd had the chance, the concert has since been acknowledged as a defining moment in modern music.
"His going electric changed the structure of folk music," Newport Folk Festival founder George Wein, 88, said. "The minute Dylan went electric, all these young people said, 'Bobby's going electric. We're going electric, too.'"
Some cries of 'Judas' were heard during Dylan's short set and at subsequent concerts in the 1960s as he moved towards amplified rock from his folk roots.
"I did this very crazy thing," Dylan, who was 24 at the time, said after the show. "I didn't know what was going to happen, but they certainly booed. I'll tell you that."
The guitar has been in the possession of a New Jersey family for almost 50 years after Dylan left it on a private plane. Pilot Vic Quinto's daughter, Dawn Peterson, took the guitar to the PBS television show "History Detectives" to have it authenticated.
Dylan and the Peterson family had been in a legal dispute over ownership of the guitar, but recently settled the case without disclosing the terms.
The 72-year-old songsmith made the headlines this week when it emerged that a Croat community organization in France was seeking an apology for contentious remarks made in an interview with "Rolling Stone" magazine published in 2012. French magistrates were also looking into charges of "public insult and inciting hate" to see if there were grounds for a court case.
msh/ch (AP, Reuters)