The Gibson Chris Kyle Commemorative Les Paul Standard Special—a.k.a the American Sniper—sold at auction for $117,500 on Tuesday, May 5. The company created the one-off custom guitar and auctioned it to raise funds for U.S. veterans suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
The guitar is named for former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who was depicted in the 2014 film American Sniper. Kyle is the most lethal sniper in U.S. military history and in 2012 wrote a memoir of his experiences, on which the film was based. He was shot and killed by a fellow veteran at a gun range in 2014.
The Sniper went on the auction block on Thursday, April 2, with a starting bid of $3,000. Within the first 24 hours, the bidding had gone above $15,000. The guitar had an estimated value of $50,000, which it handily exceeded.
Proceeds from the auction will be donated to the Guardian for Heroes Foundation, which was founded by Kyle and helps veterans with disabilities.
The guitar was the brainchild of country musician Tim Montana, who came up with the idea after seeing American Sniper. About eight years ago, Montana befriended Hunter Mitchell, a combat veteran with PTSD. Mitchell died in February.
“In the midst of this whole thing, he pass away,’ Montana told USA Today. “He told me about [how PTSD affected him] and helped me see it firsthand.”
The Sniper was handcrafted at Gibson Guitars in Nashville and took nearly two months to build. It has a ’57 classic pickup, satin nickel hardware, a rosewood fingerboard with white binding, a mahogany neck and back, and a maple top.
In addition to its distinctive knobs made from ammo shells, the guitar has a finish that features a skull graphic that mimics the logo used by Kyle’s SEAL Team 3 group. Frank Johns, Gibson's product supervisor, told USA Today that the finish is a “special paint job with many layers of paint and masking, not a sticker that's applied.”
Johns team also created a silk screen for the headstock to commemorate the Chris Kyle Second Annual Memorial Benefit, held this year from May 1 to 3, to benefit the Guardian for Heroes Foundation.
Chris Kyle Commemorative Les Paul Standard Special Specs
Model: Les Paul Standard Special build for Chris Kyle benefit
Pickups: Bridge: 57 classic
Hardware: Satin Nickel
Fingerboard: Rosewood with white binding
Scale: 24.75” / 62.865 cm
Nut Width: 1.695” / 4.305 cm
Nut: Graph Tech
Bridge: Lightning Bar Wrap around
Neck Material: Mahogany
Body Material: Mahogany back / Maple Top
Controls: 1 Volume and 1 Tone with .338 and .300 shell knobs
Colors: Chris Kyle Benefit logo in Viper Blue and Red Rocker with metallic gray background and Viper Blue back.