BB King’s guitar 'Lucille' sells at auction for $280,000

BB King: Getty
BB King: Getty

A guitar named Lucille that was one of the last to be played by legendary blues musician BB King has sold at auction for $280,000 (£225,000).

The black Gibson ES-345 prototype was given to King as an 80th birthday gift in 2005, and was the first in a limited edition of 80. King’s autograph is scrawled on its back.

Prior to the auction, the guitar was valued at $80,000 to $100,000, with auction house Julien’s Auctions confirming this week that its buyer wished to remain anonymous.

King, who died in 2015 at the age of 89, had named his primary guitars “Lucille” since 1949, when a dance hall he was performing in caught fire amid a brawl between two love rivals. King was helped to safety from the fire but ran back into the burning venue to rescue his guitar.

After learning that the two men were fighting over a woman named Lucille, King decided to name all of his guitars after her in tribute.

The Gibson sold at auction was used by King between the years of 2005 and 2009, until it was stolen and sold on the collectors’ market. After a guitar collector bought the item and investigated its origins, it was returned to King that same year.

The guitar was one of more than 550 items from King’s estate sold at a Los Angeles auction last weekend, with awards, personal memorabilia and his own record collection fetching $1.3 million in total, Julien’s Auctions confirmed.