Here at Guitar Player, a lot of guitar auction stories cross our desks. Few soon-to-be-auctioned guitars we've seen though, possess a backstory quite as colorful as this one.
This 1958 Gibson Les Paul – currently up for sale via Heritage Auctions – was purchased by none other than George Harrison as a ransom payment of sorts, for the safe return of "Lucy," his beloved 1957 Les Paul.
After featuring prominently on the Beatles' White Album, Let It Be, and Abbey Road, Lucy – which had previously been owned by the Lovin’ Spoonful’s John Sebastian, Rick Derringer, and Eric Clapton – was stolen from his Beverly Hills home during a 1973 burglary and sold.
The 1958 Les Paul on offer by Heritage – which you can see and hear in action below – was the key in getting Lucy back into Harrison's hands.
After it was taken from Harrison's home, Lucy was sold to Whalin's Sound City music store on Sunset Blvd., where it was then – according to Heritage – sold to a Mexican guitarist named Miguel Ochoa.
Via the guitar's sales receipt, Harrison quickly tracked down the friend whom Ochoa was staying with, and offered to reimburse Ochoa for Lucy's full sale price. Realizing how valuable the guitar was though, Ochoa absconded back to his native Mexico, with Lucy in hand.
Harrison then upped his offer, saying he'd trade a guitar of Ochoa's choosing for Lucy. Ochoa demanded a 1958 Les Paul Standard – which the Beatle then purchased from Norman Harris (of Norman's Rare Guitars) – and a Fender Precision bass. After receiving the two instruments, Ochoa returned Lucy, which remains in the Harrison family's possession to this day.
Ochoa subsequently kept the "ransom" Les Paul until 1983, when he sold it to Nadine's Music owner Robert Truman.
According to Heritage, the guitar's electronics are original, however, the pickup covers were removed and subsequently re-installed, with non-stock Kluson tuners also installed on the guitar at some point.
The Les Paul's frets, likewise, are original and have "moderate" wear, and the guitar comes with its original hard case.
Overall, the Les Paul – serial #8 5424 – is said to be in "very good" condition.
Bidding for this 1958 Gibson Les Paul – which currently has an opening bid of $250,000 – closes on September 24.
For more info on the guitar, visit entertainment.ha.com.
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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.