Les Paul's "Black Beauty" Guitar Sells for $419,900 at Auction

Les Paul's 'Black Beauty' Guitar Sells for $419,900 at Auction
Late guitar hero Les Paul's famed "Black Beauty" Gibson guitar, later used as the standard template for the popular Les Paul series, has been sold at a New York auction for $335,000 US ($419,900 CDN).

The Associate Press reports that auctioneers Guernsey's put the prized six-string up for sale last night (February 19). Rolling Stone adds that the highest bidder was Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who won the guitar after five minutes of bidding. The collector had previously picked up one of Jerry Garcia's guitars for $850,000 US in 2002, and Bob Dylan's famed Newport Folk Festival Fender Stratocaster in 2009 for $965,000 US.

The "Black Beauty" was made for Paul in 1954 and features gold-plated hardware, as well as then-innovative touches including P-90 pickups and a tune-o-matic bridge. The guitar was made to Paul's standards and mass produced by Gibson. An earlier attempt at a custom Paul-backed guitar had been made in 1952, but the musician deemed the instrument unacceptable.

The original "Black Betty" had been in musician Tom Doyle's possession since 1976 and was gifted to him by Paul.

"Without this very guitar," Paul's godson Steve Miller wrote of "Black Beauty" in the auction catalog, "no other Les Paul guitars could exist in the form that we have come to know and love for all these decades."

Other items of Paul's that went up for sale last night included a 16-track soundboard and vintage microphones from the 1950s.