April 24, 2024


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Beatles legend Paul McCartney's stolen guitar found after more than 50 years: 'Very grateful'

Beatles legend Paul McCartney's stolen guitar found after more than 50 years: 'Very grateful'

The original bass guitar used by legendary musician Paul McCartney in the Beatles' early years has been found and returned after being stolen more than five decades ago.

The 81-year-old singer-songwriter was reunited with a left-handed Höfner 500/1 violin after its manufacturer and a team of husband-and-wife journalists embarked on a search for the missing instrument in 2018 that later became a crowdsourcing campaign called the Missing Bass Project. .

A statement posted Wednesday on McCartney's website confirmed that the guitar had been discovered and returned to its original owner.

“Following the launch of the Lost Bass Project last year, a 1961 Paul Höfner 500/1 Bass guitar, stolen in 1972, has been returned. The authenticity of the guitar has been verified by Höfner and Paul is very grateful to everyone involved,” the statement read. is reading.

Paul McCartney has been reunited with his stolen guitar after more than 50 years. (Getty Images)

McCartney originally purchased it in 1961 for $37, and it is now valued at $12.6 million, according to the Associated Press.

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The guitar was McCartney's primary instrument when the Beatles first got their start with a series of residencies in Hamburg, Germany. McCartney played the instrument on the Beatles' first two albums, and it appeared on such hits as “Love Me Do,” “Twist and Shout,” and “She Loves You.”

“Because I was left-handed, it seemed less ridiculous because it was symmetrical,” McCartney once said. “I got into it. As soon as I bought it, I fell in love with it.”

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The guitar was originally believed to have been stolen during the band's famous recording sessions for their final album, “Let It Be”, in 1969.

Paul McCartney playing guitar 1963

The bass guitar was stolen in 1972. (Mark and Colin Hayward/Redferns)

McCartney asked Hofner to help find the missing instrument that helped launch Beatlemania across the universe, Scott Jones, the journalist who teamed up with Hofner's CEO, Nick Wass, to track it down, said Friday.

“Paul said to me, ‘Hey, since you're from Hofner, can't you help find my bass?'” Wass said, according to the AP. “And that's what sparked this great chase. When I was sitting there, seeing what the missing bass meant for Paul, I was determined to solve the mystery.”

The Lost Bass Project was originally launched in 2018, but the investigation eventually stalled. However, in 2022, Jones and his wife Naomi teamed up with SPA to help research attract more media attention and enlist the public's help.

After relaunching The Lost Bass Project last fall, the group received 600 emails within 48 hours containing “the little gems that led us to where we are today,” Jones told the AP.

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Sound engineer Ian Horne, who worked with McCartney's band Wings, contacted the Lost Bass Project and revealed that the bass had been stolen from the back of his van in London's Notting Hill neighborhood in 1972.

“I knew it was Paul's original Hofner bass that had been stolen, and I knew what it meant to him,” Horn wrote in an email, according to The Lost Bass Project via CBS.

“Trevor [Jones, McCartney’s other sound engineer at the time] I did everything I could to find him, but he disappeared. Eventually we had to go to Paul's house in Cavendish Street and tell him that the equipment had been stolen from the back of the lorry. We went into the room and told Paul. He told us not to worry, and we kept our jobs. He's a good man, Paul. I worked with him for six years after the bass disappeared. But I carried the guilt all my life.”

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The Lost Bass Project posted the update in search on their website and received an email from someone who revealed that their father had stolen the bass. Jones said the man did not intend to steal McCartney's instrument, and he panicked when he realized what he had.

The thief, who has not been named, later sold it to Ron Guest, owner of the Admiral Blake pub, for a few pounds and some beer. Guest's family learned of the search and his daughter-in-law Cathy Guest contacted McCartney's studio.

Kathy said the instrument, which had been stored in her attic for years, resembled McCarthy's lost voice.

Paul McCartney plays guitar

McCartney performs during the 2022 Glastonbury Festival in Glastonbury, England. (Harry Durrant/Getty Images)

The guitar was passed from Ron Guest to his eldest son, who died in a car accident, and then to his youngest son, Hayden Guest, who was married to Cathy and died in 2020.

The bass was returned to McCartney in December, and was authenticated about two months later.

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The estimated value of the instrument is based on the fact that the Gibson acoustic guitar that Kurt Cobain played on MTV Unplugged sold for $6 million, Jones said. But they have had almost no value over the past half century.


“The thief couldn’t sell it,” Jones said. “Obviously the Guest family never tried to sell it. It's a red flag because the minute you walk up someone is going to say, 'That's Paul McCartney's guitar.'”

“Perhaps the most famous lost instrument of all time. It has now returned to the man who bought it all those years ago. The bass is finally back where it belongs,” The Lost Bass Project wrote.

They added: “We thought we would never see her again. But we did!”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.