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'Pawn Kings' buy rare Les Paul guitar for $90,000 - then sell it for $110,000

Les Paul helped invent rock music as we know it - here's his ex-wife's Gibson SG Les Paul guitar

Guitars are among the best alternative investments in the collectibles markets. The more legendary the guitar, the better. And it doesn't get any more legendary than the guitar innovator Les Paul.

Born Lester William Polsfuss in Wisconsinin, 1915, Les Paul is credited with many music recording innovations and was a pioneer of the solid bodied rock guitar, which made the sound of rock and roll possible.

Les Paul's guitars are very coveted, especially those with provenance linked to the man himself. Like this example purchased on the History Channel's TV series Pawn Stars. The vintage 1961 Gibson SG Les Paul Custom guitar used to belong to Les Paul's ex-wife, Mary Ford.

The guitar was first bought for $90,000 from Mary Ford's nephew, as shown on Pawn Stars. It was then put up for auction on eBay and sold for $110,000.

The ex-Mary Ford Gibson SG Les Paul Custom, as it appeared on eBay

The sale included personal items belonging to Les Paul. Most surprising of these was an old letter manuscript stating "Les is told Not to sign a contract with Gibson." To this day, Gibson is this the main manufacturer of Paul's guitars.

Had Les followed the advice in this letter, the fortunes of both he and Gibson... and rock 'n' roll in general... could have been very different.

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Last updated: 9 February 2012