LONDON – A guitar set alight onstage by Jimi Hendrix during a concert in London was sold at auction on Thursday for $497,557 to a collector from the United States.
The scorched Fender Stratocaster was the star lot at an auction of music memorabilia that also included The Beatles' first contract and a gun permit application made out by Elvis Presley.
Specialist auction house The Fame Bureau said Hendrix's guitar, which he set alight during a concert at London's Astoria in March 1967, was purchased by enthusiast Daniel Boucher, from Boylston, Mass.
Boucher traveled to Britain especially for the sale, which saw around 250 lots put up for auction -- suggesting the market in rock 'n' roll memorabilia is still booming despite economic gloom.
"I thought I'd have to pay a little bit more for it, actually. I am going to play it, I hope some of it rubs off on me," Boucher said, after successfully bidding for Hendrix's guitar.
Hendrix famously burned another guitar at the Monterey Pop festival in 1967, where the stunt was caught on film.
The Fame Bureau said the scorched guitar on sale Thursday was found last year at the home of a relative of Tony Garland, Hendrix's former press officer. It had been predicted to sell for up to $900,000.
A copy of The Beatles' first contract with manager Brian Epstein sold for $426,478, the auctioneers said.
The four-page document was signed on Jan. 24, 1962, by John Lennon, George Harrison, Paul McCartney and Richard Starkey -- Ringo Starr's real name. It is also signed by Harold Hargreaves Harrison and James McCartney on behalf of their underage sons, and marked the moment when all the pieces were in place for a global outbreak of Beatlemania.
The contract entitled Epstein to 25 percent of the group's earnings once each band member was making more than 200 British pounds a week. Epstein did not sign it until Oct, 1, 1962 -- after he had fulfilled a promise to get the band a deal with a record label. The Beatles signed to EMI, and their first single, "Love Me Do," was released Oct. 5.
An application to the State of California for a concealed-gun permit by Elvis Presley, and a set of his fingerprints, fetched $81,740.