Bonhams To Auction 'Alligator' Guitar On December 10

Los Angeles – Bonhams will offer 'Alligator', a Fender Stratocaster owned and played by Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead, in the sale of Alligator! A San Francisco Rock Star's Guitars, Art & More at Bonhams Los Angeles on December 10. The guitar was nicknamed 'Alligator' after the dancing alligator sticker on the pickguard. It has an estimate of $250,000-400,000. The personal collection of over 70 lots also includes additional guitars, paintings by Jerry Garcia, his large collection of comics, as well as his Hawaiian shirts.

A build date of 1955, Alligator is believed to have been gifted to Jerry Garcia in 1970 by Graham Nash (ex-Hollies; Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young) in appreciation of Garcia's guitar work on Nash's solo album Songs For Beginners. Nash supposedly bought the guitar in 1970 for $250 at a pawn shop in Phoenix, TX. The guitar has numerous external and internal modifications largely carried out by Frank Fuller and Rick Turner of Alembic, a company founded in 1969 composed of a small group of instrument and hi-fi specialists who were closely involved in achieving the Dead's signature sound of the 1970s.

Giles Moon, Bonhams Director of Music & Entertainment Memorabilia, commented: "This iconic Fender Stratocaster was Jerry Garcia's guitar of choice from early 1971 until the fall of 1973. It was clearly a favorite, as it was the first of only a handful of Garcia's guitars that were ever named. Garcia played this guitar in numerous live performances, notably on the Grateful Dead's 1972 European tour."

Additional highlights in the sale include:

A Watercolor of an Alligator by Jerry Garcia (1942-1995), watercolor on paper (estimate: $4,000-6,000)

A Martin D-28 Acoustic Guitar played by Jerry Garcia on The Festival Express Tour, Canada, 1970 (estimate: $30,000-50,000)

A Hawaiian Shirt owned and worn by Jerry Garcia, early 1990s (estimate: $500-800)

A pair of prescription sunglasses owned and worn by Jerry Garcia, circa 1990 (estimate: $2,000-4,000)

A Jerry Garcia group of a near complete run of EC Comics Crime Suspense Stories, early 1950s (estimate: $1,000-2,000)


Bonhams, founded in 1793, is one of the world's largest and most renowned auctioneers, offering fine art and antiques, motor cars and jewelry. The main salerooms are in London, New York, Los Angeles and Hong Kong, with auctions also held in Knightsbridge, Edinburgh, Paris, San Francisco and Sydney. With a worldwide network of offices and regional representatives in 22 countries, Bonhams offers advice and valuation services in 60 specialist areas. For a full list of forthcoming auctions, plus details of Bonhams specialist departments, please visit


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