The times are indeed a-changin’. Bob Dylan’s first major-label album, Bob Dylan, sold fewer than 25,000 copies in its initial release and didn’t chart in America. But now, the artist’s famous guitar that he used when he went electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival could fetch more money than all of those albums put together — $500,000 to be exact.
However, the guitar wouldn’t be on the auction block for nearly as much money without a little legal intervention.
According to NPR, the guitar ended up in the hands of Dawn Peterson, a New Jersey resident, who said Dylan left the guitar behind on a plane her father was flying in 1965. Dylan, however, refuted Peterson’s claim, saying he still had the sunburst Fender Stratocaster guitar that he played on stage.
A Rolling Stone article from July 2013 said that Peterson settled with Dylan soon after the airing of a PBS History Detectives show that highlighted the guitar. “One term of the agreement that I obviously can disclose is that Mr. Dylan will participate in the sale to the extent that he will be signing off on any ownership interest after the sale,” Peterson's attorney, Christopher DeFalco, told Rolling Stone. “The person who buys it will receive a bill of sale that will be signed both by the Petersons and Mr. Dylan or his representatives.”
The History Detectives experts believed that an authenticated guitar would fetch as much as $500,000 at auction, while Peterson believes that it could fetch more. It is unclear whether Dylan would receive any percentage of the auction’s profits through the terms of his agreement with Peterson. In addition, the sale will include handwritten Dylan lyrics found in the guitar case, which Peterson estimates to be worth nearly $50,000.
The electric guitar represents a monumental moment in the famous singer’s history. Before the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, Dylan had not played an electric set since high school and had never played with a backing band. But after the Festival — which was viewed with derision at the time by much of the folk community — Dylan began to use both an electric guitar and a backing band with regularity.