John Lennon's 'Bed-in' self-portrait sells for $55,726 in London

Christie's turned everything up to '11' at its Popular Culture: Rock and Pop memorabilia auction, held in London's South Kensington on Thursday, June 24.

Unsurprisingly, three of rock's biggest icons headlined the sale: The Who's Pete Townsend, The Beatles' John Lennon and blues guitar legend Eric Clapton.

The Gibson SG played by The
Who's Pete Townsend in 1971

In terms of value, the star lot was Pete Townsend's circa 1970-71 Gibson SG Standard Custom Order three-pickup guitar. It was sold to a US private buyer for $73,678 (well clear of its $44,900 high estimate).

The historic guitar was wielded by Townsend during The Who's tour of the USA in 1971, when the band were fast-evolving into one of the greatest live acts on the planet.

Second in the sale was a rare and oversized drawing in black ink by John Lennon; a double self-portrait caricature of he and Yoko Ono, drafted in Suite 1742 of the Queen Elizabeth Hotel, in 1969.

It was no ordinary stay at a Canadian hotel, but the scene of John and Yoko's now iconic "Bed-in for Peace" which the couple held between May-June of that year.

Perhaps one of the most important rock star-drawn artworks of the hippie peace era, Lennon's artwork sold on target for its $44,900-74,800 estimate, bringing $55,726.

In third place was another guitar, this time a 2004 Fender Custom Shop Stratocaster 'CRASH' concept guitar owned and played by Eric Clapton.

A self-portrait by John Lennon during he and Yoko's famous
"bed-in" protest in 1969

During 2004, the Fender became Clapton's main stage instrument. It first appeared at the One Generation 4 Another charity concert at The Royal Albert Hall, held on March 15 of that year.

Eric Clapton's 2004 Fender guitar

Clapton continued to play the instrument throughout his 2004 European Tour. The much-used guitar almost doubled its lower estimate of $29,000, eventually realising $52,136.

Christie's were happy with the results, according to Neil Roberts, the auction house's Head of Department, Popular Culture.

"The Popular Culture: Rock and Pop Memorabilia sale saw an over-flowing saleroom of collectors and music fans of all ages," he said.

"Many bid and bought over the telephones [also with] one of the strongest results for online bidding ever seen at Christie's South Kensington.

"Interest came from over 19 countries around the world, with bidders as far afield as Australia, Lebanon, Austria, South Africa and the Americas, amongst others."

The sale's vendors, American collectors Brad and Diana Rodgers, were also pleased: "My wife and I were incredibly pleased with the results achieved by Christie's today.

"This sale demonstrates that the market for high end, one of a kind material is as strong as it has ever been," said Mr Rodgers.

Overall, the 247 rock 'n' roll lots offered in the auction generated an impressive sales total of $1,018,197.

Elsewhere, collectors with an interest in Lennon's art can also buy this very scarce hand-drawing by The Beatles legend, sketched during his first year at Liverpool Art School.

The drawing is for sale alongside rare and valuable autographs signed by the Fab Four, Jimi Hendrix, The Who and others.


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