The final hammer has gone down on the globally anticipated auction of guitars from the personal collection of music legend Mark Knopfler, the celebrated singer-songwriter, guitar hero and frontman of the iconic British band, Dire Straits. The sale, held on January 31st was 100% sold, realising a total of £8,840,160 / $11,227,003 / €10,342,987, including buyer’s premium. The sale was led by Knopfler’s 1959 Vintage Gibson Les Paul Standard which sold for £693,000, setting a new world auction record for the model (estimate: £300,000-500,000). Further new world auction records were set, including for a Pensa-Suhr and a Schecter (full details below). Music aficionados, fans and collectors from 61 countries registered to bid, with phenomenal levels of competition across the 122 lots offered resulting in the auction lasting over 6 hours. 25% of the total hammer price will be divided equally and donated to charities that Mark Knopfler has supported for many years: The British Red Cross, Tusk and Brave Hearts of the North East. 100% of the funds raised from the final lot are being donated to Teenage Cancer Trust. In addition, Christie’s is contributing a further £50,000 to each of the four charities.
Mark Knopfler: “This auction has been an incredible journey and I am so pleased that these much loved instruments will find new players and new songs as well as raising money for charities that mean a lot to me. All Christie’s staff have been hugely impressive in every respect.
It has been heart-warming to witness how much these guitars mean to so many people and I am also pleased that they will continue to give joy to many through the songs recorded over the years with me. To you fellow players, enthusiasts and collectors, I wish you all good things.”
Amelia Walker, Christie’s Specialist Head of Private and Iconic Collections, London: “We are absolutely thrilled with the outstanding result of this auction, a testament to the phenomenal global appeal of Mark Knopfler and Dire Straits. Christie’s London has been buzzing with music and excitement for the last two weeks, and the exhibition has drawn fans from around the world. The auction saw an unprecedented number of bidders register to take part. We feel privileged to have been entrusted by Mark to find new owners for his old ‘friends’, some of which appear on his upcoming new album One Deep River to be released in April, and to have helped raise money for his chosen charities.”
The top 5 lots:
Lot 42: 1959 Vintage Gibson Les Paul Standard sold for £693,000, setting a new world auction record for a 1959 Gibson Les Paul (estimate: £300,000-500,000). Mark used this guitar for performances on the Sailing To Philadelphia Tour in 2001 and the Kill To Get Crimson Tour in 2008, as well as several recordings. A true collector’s instrument, with a beautifully faded cherry-red sunburst finish.
Lot 10: 1983 Les Paul Standard ’59 Reissue sold for £592,200 (estimate: £10,000-15,000). It was used to record both the title track and ‘Money For Nothing’ on Dire Straits’ 1985 album Brothers In Arms, as well as performances on the subsequent tour, and most famously on stage at Live Aid in 1985 when Dire Straits performed ‘Money For Nothing’ with Sting on vocals.
Lot 17: 1988 Pensa-Suhr MK-1 sold for £504,000, setting a new world auction record for a Pensa-Suhr (estimate: £6,000-8,000). This guitar was completed in record time so it would be ready for Knopfler to play at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert on 11 June 1988 at Wembley Stadium. The guitar made its debut a week earlier when Knopfler played ‘Money For Nothing’ and ‘Layla’ with Eric Clapton’s All-Star Band at the Prince’s Trust Rock Gala on 6 June 1988.
Lot 8: Red Schecter Telecaster sold for £415,800 setting a new world auction record for a Schecter (estimate: £4,000-6,000). Knopfler purchased the guitar in 1984 and used it to record the hit Dire Straits song ‘Walk Of Life’ and its accompanying music video. This vermillion red workhorse has become one of his most recognisable and long-serving instruments, with a live performance history spanning Dire Straits’ 1985-86 Brothers in Arms Tour through to Knopfler’s 2008 Kill To Get Crimson Tour, with notable appearances at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute Concert in 1988 and on the 1996 live concert DVD A Night In London.
Lot 123: Gibson Les Paul ‘Gold Top’ sold for £403,200 (estimate: £20,000-40,000). This guitar betokens a highly anticipated collaboration project featuring some of the world’s most iconic musicians, spearheaded by Mark Knopfler, to be announced in February. The autographs on this guitar include Mark Knopfler, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey, Slash, Ronnie Wood, Brian May, Sting, Ringo Starr, Bruce Springsteen, The Edge, Joan Jett, and Nile Rodgers, as well as many other world-famous artists. 100% of the funds raised through the sale of this guitar will be donated to Teenage Cancer Trust, of which Mark Knopfler is a proud patron.