“He played it left hand” *
Just two of the David Bowie items auctioned at Bonhams on Wednesday (July 3rd) exceeded all expectations when they sold for a remarkable £32,500 GBP (approx. $49,000 USD).
Of the various Bowie items up for grabs, the following were the two particular lots that created a bit of a stir.
Lot # 239
David Bowie: A Vox Mk.XII twelve-string electric guitar, late 1960s, with Vox-style 'teardrop' body finished in red, three pickups and three volume/tone controls, three-way selector switch, aluminium scratchplate, fingerboard with dot markers, in case, with stand.
Sold for £13,750 inc. premium
The vendor began his career in the music business as a production assistant for the Gem Group (co-founded by Tony Defries in 1966) and later worked for Mainman Limited from 1970 to 1973. He purchased the guitar in 1971 from a well-known music shop in Richmond, Surrey, on a brief to find a suitable replacement while Bowie's 12-string acoustic was being given a new, blue finish.
This is the guitar that is shown in the photograph of David, taken in August 1972 by Japanese photographer Masayoshi Sukita. This same photograph is featured on p.13 of the exhibition catalogue, 'David Bowie Is', Victoria & Albert Museum, March-August 2013. It is also reproduced in 'Uncut' magazine, April 2012, a copy of which is included in this lot. Another photograph from the 1972 session, featuring this guitar, was used on a concert poster for David Bowie and Roxy Music at the Rainbow Theatre, London, 19th-20th August 1972.
The lack of any maker's name or other identifying detail on the scratchplate and headstock, the absence of a serial number and snap-on circular pad on the rear of the body, and the usage of plastic-head Van Ghent machine heads rather than metal Vox-branded Van Ghents all indicate that this guitar was made circa 1968/69, after the demise of Jennings Musical Instruments, maker of Vox amplification and guitars. Much of JMI's guitar stock was purchased by Arbiter, who then produced Vox models, incorporating Vox's original parts, under their own name. This model appears in Arbiter's 1969 catalogue as the '4520'.
Lot # 240
David Bowie: A rare set of handwritten lyrics for The Jean Genie, signed Bowie dated 1972, from the album 'Aladdin Sane', each verse and the chorus written across 18 lines in black ballpoint pen on cream lined notebook paper, framed, accompanied by documents concerning the provenance, 11 x 8½ inches (28 x 21.5cm).
Sold for £18,750 inc. premium
David Bowie gave these lyrics to Neal Peters, the then President of the Original David Bowie Fan Club in the USA. The authorised fan club was established in 1973 and Peters was appointed by Bowie himself.
The accompanying paperwork includes a letter from the Neal Peters Collection, on headed paper, confirming the lyrics were a gift from David Bowie and copy documents relating to Peter's and the work he did with the fan club, during its infancy.
* Actually he didn't play it at all. The guitar was used as a prop for all of ten minutes during a photo session with Sukita in London, August, 1972.