John Lennon’s lost guitar turns up in San Diego

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Ringo Starr (back), George Harrison (1943 - 2001), Paul McCartney and John Lennon (1940 - 1980) of The Beatles perform 'I Want To Hold Your Hand' on Granada TV's Late Scene Extra on November 25th 1963 in Manchester, United Kingdom. (Photo by David Redfern/Redferns)

SAN DIEGO — An acoustic guitar used by John Lennon to compose hit Beatles songs, only to disappear for half a century before turning up in San Diego, is set to be auctioned this fall.

Julien’s Auctions of Beverly Hills, which plans to accept bids Nov. 6-7, says Lennon used the 1962 Gibson J-160E guitar to compose iconic Beatles tunes like “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” “Please, Please, Me” and “All My Loving.”

Julien’s estimates bidding between $600,000 and $800,000 for the guitar, which went missing at a concert in December 1963, according to the auction house.

Julien’s announcement said that the owner of the guitar, John McCaw, contacted a friend, Marc Intravaia of Sanctuary Art and Music of Sorrento Valley, and had him get in touch with Andy Babiuk, considered an expert in Beatles music equipment.

Babiuk, of Rochester, New York, authenticated the instrument, according to Julien’s.

“Wood grain is like a fingerprint, no two are the same, and without a doubt it is a match,” Babiuk said.

“It is one of the most important of all Lennon’s Beatles guitars, as he used this J-160E to write some of the Beatles’ biggest hits, and played the guitar on countless live performances and on many Beatle recordings,” Babiuk said. “It is without a doubt one of the most historically important guitars to ever come up for auction.”

Julien’s said the guitar has not been modified in any way.

Intravaia told The San Diego Reader that McCaw purchased the instrument in 1969 at a former guitar shop in Old Town and didn’t realize its value until last year.

The guitar is scheduled to go on display beginning Saturday at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin, Texas, and will be exhibited July 2-Sept. 7 at the Grammy Museum in Los Angeles, and at Julien’s Auctions Beverly Hills Nov. 2- 6.

5 comments

  • Henry

    If it was stolen in 1963, then doesn’t it really still belong to Lennon’s family and no one else?

    He (McCaw) should do the right thing and return it to it’s rightful owner(s)….Lennon’s widow and kids!

    • WhatTheFrench

      Calm down Henry. Im sure Yoko Ono has PLENTY of money. The guy bought it fair and square so get off your high horse.

      • sAM U L

        hey frenchie baby! NO , YOU CAN’T KEEP WHAT IS STOLEN!!!! that makes you a thief!!!

        maybe mccaw stole it in 63 and is making claims that he “bought” it when it is BS!!!
        either way…..if my stuff was stolen then “found” years later it is STILL MY STUFF AND I STILL OWN IT!

        YOU CAN’T BUY OR SELL STOLEN STUFF! IT AIN’T YOURS…GET IT???

        RETURN IT McCAW! DON’T BE A CROOK!

        • Bob's Classic Cars

          Sam ,
          You are so right! Someone needs to tell Lennon’s family so they can stop the sale if that is what they want.
          Only Lennon’s heirs should have a say in where the guitar should be and to whom.
          Anyone that buys or sells stolen items belongs in jail. That especially means McCaw!
          I think McCaw is lying. His story smells fishy to me!

  • Dennis Clardy

    Lots of folks mentioning “stolen”, but the statute of limitations ran out a very long time ago, even IF John reported the guitar stolen. In the states, you would be hard pressed to find a limitation of more than 5 years and England is very similar. However, England has no statute of limitation on sex crime and murder. Theft and petty crimes, not so much. Thanks to McCaw for preserving this treasure, while not even knowing what he had!

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