Get all your news in one place.
100’s of premium titles.
One app.
Start reading
Guitar World
Guitar World
Matt Owen

“We thought it was lost forever. This could be the guitar that sets a new world record”: John Lennon’s missing Help! Framus acoustic has been found in an attic after 50 years – and it could become one of the most expensive guitars ever sold

John Lennon Framus Hootenanny 12-string.

John Lennon’s long-lost Framus Hootenanny acoustic guitar has been found – and it’s set to go under the hammer next month for what could potentially be a world record-smashing auction.

One of the most iconic and influential instruments to have been used by the Beatles, the 12-string guitar was used during the Help! recording sessions in the ‘60s, and can be seen in the Beatles film of the same name.

Notably, it was used for the film’s performance of You’ve Got To Hide Your Love Away, and it can also be heard on It’s Only Love and I’ve Just Seen a Face. Furthermore, the Framus is said to feature on the recording of Girl, as well as the rhythm track for Norwegian Wood.

It was played extensively by most members of the Beatles during this era, with pictures from the decade depicting Lennon and George Harrison both wielding the acoustic.

Making the announcement even more significant, the Framus was recently discovered in the attic of a rural family home just outside London, having been missing for over 50 years. Before its discovery, the forgotten Framus was believed to have been lost forever.

But now it’s been found and – despite an incredibly conservative official estimate of $800,000 – is being tipped as what could potentially become the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction.

The guitar itself was unveiled today (April 23) by Julien’s Auctions during a live preview event at the Hard Rock Cafe at Piccadilly Circus, London, which Guitar World attended. 

(Image credit: Future)
(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

Even before the Framus was fully unveiled, Julien’s Executive Directors Darren Julien and Martin J. Nolan were hyping up the significance of the discovery, telling the Hard Rock Cafe crowd that the guitar in question could potentially surpass the record set by Kurt Cobain’s $6,000,000 Martin D-18e.

Their stance became clear once the lid of the original battered Maton guitar case – which had to be salvaged from a skip during a “cold, dark, wet March evening”, having originally been thrown out – had been lifted.

“This guitar happens to be one of the most important Beatles guitars and instruments ever to come to the auction block,” said Darren Julien at the unveiling. “It’s John Lennon’s Framus guitar that he used in the movie Help! He used it on the album Rubber Soul, as well as Help!

“George Harrison used it,” he continued. “We have great photographs of it in the studio being played by John Lennon, George Harrison, all the Beatles are there.”

During the presentation, Nolan also revealed he and Julien recently reunited the Framus with Ringo Starr, who added his own name to the list of Beatles to have played the storied instrument.

(Image credit: Future)
(Image credit: Future)
(Image credit: Future)

As for how the Framus ended up in the back of an attic, Julien explained Lennon once gifted the guitar to Gordon Waller of Peter & Gordon, who in turn later gave the guitar to its current owners. For the past five decades, it has laid unplayed.

Fortunately, the guitar is still in pristine condition, with Julien saying it “plays unbelievable”. In terms of its build, the 5/024/12 flattop Hootenanny features a mahogany neck and rosewood fingerboard, with a Trapeze tailpiece and rosewood bridge.

As mentioned, the Julien’s team are (quite rightly) expecting this Framus to sell for a rather significant sum come next month. 

(Image credit: Future)
(Image credit: Future)
(Image credit: Future)

It will most likely become the most expensive Beatles guitar ever sold at auction, but that’s not all: it’s also expected to rival Cobain’s Martin as the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction.

“We are so excited to be the caretakers of this treasure, which we think has the possibility to set a new world record,” Nolan concluded at the preview. “We broke the world record for guitars in 2015 when we sold John Lennon’s Gibson J-160E.

“Then we sold Kurt Cobain’s Martin D-18E, it sold for over six-million. This could be the guitar that sets a new world record. It’s so important, so historic. We thought this guitar was gone – we thought it was lost forever.”

The Framus is set to go under the hammer as part of Julien's Music Icons auction, which takes place May 29-30. Before then, it will be displayed at various locations around the world, including England, Ireland and the USA.

To find out more, head over to Julien’s.

This is the second Beatles instrument to have been discovered in an attic this year, after Paul McCartney’s legendary Höfner bass was recently unearthed after it was stolen over 50 years ago.

Sign up to read this article
Read news from 100’s of titles, curated specifically for you.
Already a member? Sign in here
Related Stories
Top stories on inkl right now
Our Picks
Fourteen days free
Download the app
One app. One membership.
100+ trusted global sources.