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George Harrison And John Lennon’s Former Guitar Valued At £400,000.

Words by Riley Fitzgerald
Graphic by Press

Appearing on an episode of popular television program Antiques Roadshow, a rare fretless guitar once belonging to John Lennon and George Harrison has been valued between £300,000 and £400,000.

It’s a strange old thing to play,” the guitar’s current owner, Ray Russell, reflected when asked about the instrument by the program’s host.

Ray is a former session musician for Handmade Films.

Harrison co-founded the company, which most famously produced Monty Python’s 1979 comedy film The Life of Brian after other studios deemed the film’s subject matter too risky to finance.

George Harrison, it turns out was also a regular acquaintance of Ray’s.

At the end of one Handmade session George and Ray worked on for 1985 film Water, Harrison requested Russell try out the guitar, a rare prototype made by Californian brand Bartell during the sixties.

Ray obtained the guitar from Harrison, who had a well known habit of giving away instruments to friends and acquaintances.

(Harrison had, in turn, obtained it from John Lennon sometime before the 1980s.)

I played a few notes,” Ray recalls, “and George said ‘Yeah you’re definitely getting more out of it than I am, it’s doing better for you, why don’t you have it’?

I think in 25 years it’s by far the most expensive thing I’ve ever seen,” antique expert Jon Baddeley commented when presented with the instrument.

Ray, who still plays the guitar regularly, was impressed by the guitar’s value.

I never really thought about value,” he confided, “as George being a mate and all that. I don’t know what to say actually, I’m really taken aback by it… It’s lucky I don’t keep it in the house.

Ray verified that the instrument was once owned by Harrison by providing his hots a photo of Harrison with he guitar, though going by his comments it doesn’t look like he intends to part with the instrument anytime soon.

It’s a funny business,” George Harrison once shared of his experience running Handmade films in the 1970s and 1980s. “Some films we’ve developed for three, four, five years have still not seen the light of day. We’d set them up and the director would drop out. Then, when a new director the actors approve of is lined up, one of the stars has got to go and make his other movie. By the time we replace him, another guy is gone. That kind of situation you learn to live with. And then there are films like Pow Wow Highway, in post-production right now, that go Number One with a Bullet. It came through my mailbox just a couple of months ago, and we’re making it straightaway. Like I said, funny business.

View the full Antiques Roadshow clip here.

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