7 Dec 2013

Dylan's electric guitar fetches record price

6:18 pm on 7 December 2013

The electric guitar famously played by Bob Dylan at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival has been sold to an unidentified buyer at auction in New York for $NZ1.165 million.

The guitar that caused such offence in 1965.

The guitar that caused such offence in 1965. Photo: AFP

The Fender Stratocaster had been in the possession of a New Jersey family for 48 years after the singer left it on a plane. The pilot's daughter, Dawn Peterson, had it authenticated on a television programme on US broadcaster PBS.

The festival in Newport, Rhode Island, is often cited as the performance where Dylan - who first came to fame playing only acoustic guitar - "went electric". His three-song set with electric guitar drew boos from the crowd, who had come expecting Dylan's usual acoustic folk performance.

Ms Peterson said on the PBS programme History Detectives that her father, the private plane's pilot, asked Dylan's management firm what to do with the guitar but nobody ever got back to him.

Experts matched the wood grain on the instrument with a close-up colour photo taken during Dylan's set at the festival.

Recently, Dylan and Ms Peterson quietly settled a legal dispute over the instrument. Details of the settlement are not known.

The previous record for a guitar sold at auction was a Fender owned by Eric Clapton, nicknamed "Blackie", which sold at Christie's for $1.157 million in 2004.