Online auction sites like eBay grab all the press these days, even though consumers spend double the money at live auctions (some $268 billion a year). And while auction houses can be a bit hermetic, several are enjoying rock-star status in the media right now—by putting some world-famous musical instruments on the block.
“We generally have to work hard to garner publicity,” said Darren Julien, founder of Julien’s Auctions. But not now. On May 17, the L.A. house will sell a 1962 Rickenbacker used by The Beatles.
The story’s the same at Nashville’s Gruhn Guitars, which just sold the first production Fender Stratocaster. “Our shop can get quite a bit of attention from those interested in fine fretted instruments,” said manager Sarah Jones, but this sale put the store “in a much wider spotlight.”
Arlan Ettinger has known the value of earned media since founding Guernsey’s in 1975. “Interesting auctions draw the media and help us reach a greater audience,” he says—and Ettinger’s has drawn lots of attention for the 265 of the world’s rarest guitars he sold on April 2-3 in New York.
Below, a few things for that musical wish list.