By Damian Fanelli
In 2004, when Eric Clapton’s coveted black Fender Stratocaster, "Blackie," sold at Christies at a then-record-breaking price of $959,500, the guitar world was astounded. That Strat was Clapton’s favorite “sidekick” for more than 15 years and was adored—and heard—by guitar fans around the world.
In the years since, major guitars have sold into the millions of dollars, but the sale of Blackie at nearly $1 million provided a tipping point in the perception of value for historic instruments.
Offered as part of that same auction was another Strat, a guitar Clapton helped design to replace Blackie after its retirement. It was created (mostly) in Blackie’s image and, upon its completion in 1990, became the guitarist's go-to instrument through 1993.
On the night Blackie sold, Clapton's "replacement Blackie" drove the bidding up to $200,000. However, the bidder wasn't able to follow through, and the guitar was offered by Clapton—over the phone—to the second-highest bidder. The bidder (who was shocked to hear Clapton on the other end of the line) followed through and bought the guitar. Now, 14 years later, that same Fender Strat is being represented—as in, sold—by San Francisco Art Exchange.
At the moment, the minimum acceptable offer is $325,000, although it's expected that the guitar will sell for considerably more. Some estimates have placed it in the $500K to $600K zone. Potential buyers who wish to submit an offer below $325,000 should contact the gallery with their contact info; in the event an acceptable offer is not received, they might be contacted for further discussion.
Full details can be requested by writing to email@example.com or calling the gallery at 415-441-8840. The guitar is at the gallery and can be previewed by interested parties. It will be sold to whomever first provides an offer that's deemed acceptable.
This is not an auction per se; it's an opportunity for someone to make an offer that's impossible to turn down. For exclusive pics, check out the photo gallery at the bottom of this story.
Six interesting tidbits about this Strat:
1. Rock and Roll Hall of Fame: Clapton used it when he performed with the reunited Cream in 1993, when the band was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
2. The Royal Albert Hall and 24 Nights: It's the guitar Clapton used throughout the 24 Nights performances at London's Royal Albert Hall in 1990 and 1991.
3. Bob Dylan: Clapton used this guitar when he played Bob Dylan’s “Don’t Think Twice, It’s Alright” during the 30th Anniversary Concert at Madison Square Garden on October 16, 1992.
4. "Smoking" guitar: It's the last-known “smoking” guitar to be associated with Clapton, because he gave up smoking in 1993. It has the characteristic cigarette burns on the headstock.
5. First Fender Eric Clapton Signature Strat: This guitar has been referred to as Fender's first officially sanctioned Eric Clapton Signature Stratocaster.
6. Touring with George Harrison: Clapton used this Strat when he and his band backed the former Beatle on their brief tour of Japan in December 1991; he continued to use it as his main stage instrument during his 1992 European and U.S. shows.