It was a present from his father
The rare 1969 Gibson Dove guitar was custom finished in black, and Presley’s father added a Kenpo Karate decal showing that it was to celebrate Elvis’s achieving a black belt in karate.
It was also personalised with ‘Elvis Presley’ inlaid across the fingerboard. It’s “one of Presley’s most recognisable instruments,” says auction house Julien’s Auctions.
Presley gave the guitar to audience member Mike Harris at a concert in North Carolina in 1975, and he hung on to it ever since. It’s now sold to an anonymous buyer for $334,000 – well over the $200,000 to $300,000 estimate.
When handing it over, Presley reportedly said: “This is yours. Hold on to that. Hopefully it’ll be valuable one day.”
It was one of a number of items of music memorabilia sold on the day.
One surprise at the auction was the sale price for the red neoprene vinyl jacket worn by Michael Jackson during his 1996-1997 History world tour. This went for $256,000 – way over the $40,000 to $60,000 estimate.
However, Elvis’s first piano sold for just $140,025, much less than the $200,000-300,000 estimate. The 1911 Stroud upright was acquired by Presley in 1955 and later given to his cook Christine Strickland. It was at the Memphis Music Hall of Fame Museum from 1992 until 1999.
And other auction items failed to sell at all, such as Lady Gaga’s first piano, on which she wrote her first song at the age of five. With an estimate of $100,000 to $200,000, it didn’t attract a buyer.
Nor did Stevie Ray Vaughan’s Fender Broadcaster electric guitar, valued at $400,000 to $600,000. Given to him by his brother in 1966, the guitar was used in Vaughan’s first studio recording and first live recording.
Other memorabilia in the auction included the suit Elvis Presley wore to the hospital after the birth of his daughter Lisa Marie. The 1961 black mohair Lanksy Bros. suit went for $28,125, while Presley’s painted leather jacket sold for $50,000.
In the past, it’s been possible to snap up Elvis memorabilia for as little as £7,500 – though that would only have got you a pair of his socks.