Les Paul’s Personal Number One — The First Gibson Les Paul Goes to Auction

Les Paul’s personal “Number One” guitar, the first approved Gibson Les Paul model, that Les own and played for years is going to auction at Christie’s in New York on October 13, 2021. This guitar, which is credited as the foundation of rock & roll, and is being hailed as perhaps the most valuable guitar in the world is featured as lot number 1 in Christie’s much anticipated, once a year, Exceptional Sale. With its undeniable historical impact, industry insiders and aficionados expect the guitar to break all previous auction records.

“It would not surprise me at all if this dislodges the Kurt Cobain Martin for the top honors [as the highest selling guitar at auction],” shared auction expert Sheila Gibson Stoodley of The Hot Bid. “It’s Les Paul’s Les Paul! It’s more comparable to Paul Newman’s Paul Newman Rolex [sold for $17.8 million], except Paul Newman didn’t personally design the Paul Newman Rolex.”

The “Number One” was the first of its kind, the culmination of nearly three decades of work, experiments, and dedication by Les Paul in collaboration with Gibson Guitars. The instrument was nothing short of revolutionary; it led to the creation of an entire genre and musical movement. Joan Jett commented that, “Without the advances he pioneered, the recording sciences and the electric guitar would have been left years behind.”

Les’ passion and vision for the electric guitar was truly unmatched, leading to his status as the only person inducted into both the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the National Inventors Hall of Fame.

“My father spent a lifetime chasing his dream,” Les’ son Gene Paul shared, citing the guitar as the genesis of rock and roll. “In my opinion, this instrument belongs in the Smithsonian next to Neil Armstrong’s boot from the moon landing. It is a national treasure.”

Peter Frampton adds, “Where would I be without Les Paul and this Les Paul Guitar? Les influenced so many players around the world and through the creation of this guitar many, many genres of music.”

Les Paul left behind an insurmountable legacy with his “Number One,” laying down the foundation for an entire era and style of music. It isn’t often that one can actually pinpoint the very start of a phenomenon; without a doubt, Les Paul’s “Number One” shaped the world of music like no other, and the auction will be nothing less than a celebration of the genius that was Mr. Les Paul.

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Award-winning journalist, author of 30 books including James Dean Died Here, Roadside Baseball; lover of music, travel, history, etc.

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Chris Epting

Chris Epting

Award-winning journalist, author of 30 books including James Dean Died Here, Roadside Baseball; lover of music, travel, history, etc.

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