Rare George Harrison guitar valued at £400,000 by Antiques Roadshow

Rebecca Lewis

A rare guitar owned by John Lennon and George Harrison has been valued at a staggering £400,000 on BBC’s Antiques Roadshow.

The Bartells of California guitar was a prototype made in the 1960s and is considered particularly rare because it is fretless. It was gifted to John Lennon who passed it on to George Harrison but in the 1980s Harrison passed it on to current owner Ray, who worked with the musician during recording sessions for his film company.

Ray took the guitar to the BBC One show for valuation and revealed that after their session Harrison told him he wasn’t sure what to do with the instrument.

A close up of the guitar featured Antiques Roadshow on Sunday, 1 March, 2020. (BBC/iPlayer)

“I played a few notes and he 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’,” Ray explained.

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Ray also had a picture of Harrison with the guitar in his home, proving that it was owned by the Beatles star.

George Harrison headshot, musician, photo

Antiques Roadshow expert Jon Baddeley, who specialises in celebrity memorabilia, said: “I think in 25 years it’s by far the most expensive thing I’ve ever seen.”

He explained: “What’s really important is the provenance and there it was in the photograph— in George Harrison’s collection. 

It was valued at £400,000 to gasps by onlookers

“Wow, you can’t do better than that.”

He added: “You know to a guitar collector it’s initially a very rare guitar. Then to somebody who’s a Beatles fan, to own a guitar that was once owned by both John Lennon and George Harrison, can you get a better history?

The picture of George with the guitar offers authenticity

“Two of the most important rock stars of the 20th century.”

He then valued the guitar at between £300,000 and £400,000.

The Beatles perform at TV studios in London, June 1966, prior to their tour in Germany and Japan. From left to right: John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Paul McCartney and George Harrison. (AP Photo)

“I never really thought about value, as George being a mate and all that,” remarked Ray who joked that he had been playing the guitar all these years.

Antiques Roadshow airs weekly at 8pm Sundays, on BBC One.