'Getting Closer to Ian Curtis'
Ian Curtis' Vox Phantom VI Special Guitar to take Centre Stage at Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia Sale in London

The guitar used by Joy Division frontman and lyricist Ian Curtis in the music video for their timeless hit 'Love Will Tear Us Apart' will be offered by Ian's daughter, Natalie, at Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia sale on 13 October in London. It has an estimate of £60,000-80,000.

Ian Curtis is considered by many as a British cultural icon who had a once-in-a-generation talent. His musical legacy, even 40 years on, is as strong as ever. Despite a short career, Ian Curtis' enigmatic presence as the lead singer of Joy Division was instrumental in the band becoming pioneers of the post-punk movement, with their debut album Unknown Pleasures, released by Factory Records in 1979. Now regarded as one of the best albums of all time, Unknown Pleasures defined not only the city of Manchester, but a moment of social change. Through his complex and melancholic song-writing, distinct vocals, and commanding stage presence, Ian Curtis left a lasting influence on musicians and the British cultural landscape as a whole.

Used by Ian on stage during the band's 1980 European tour, as well as on the recording of their track 'Heart and Soul', the Vox Phantom features in some of the most distinctive and recognisable images of the band taken by the photographer Anton Corbijn.

In the Autumn edition of Bonhams Magazine, Jon Savage writes: "The Phantom was intricately involved with Joy Division's best-known song from the very beginning. In the early footage of Ian Curtis with the white instrument, he holds it like an unwanted encumbrance: the heavy guitar restricting his body movement, preventing him from letting go."

Three weeks after the shoot for 'Love Will Tear Us Apart', Ian Curtis sadly committed suicide at his home in Macclesfield, on the eve of the band setting off on their first American tour. He was just 23 years old. Following Ian's untimely death, the band released the music video, shortly followed by their second album Closer – making this year the 40th anniversary of not only the band's last album, but also of Ian's passing.

The guitar passed to Bernard Sumner, who used it in the early years of New Order – as well as with the group Electronic, which he formed in 1988 with Johnny Marr of The Smiths. The guitar was left in the possession of Marr, who after nearly 15 years, returned it to Sumner. Sumner then gave the Phantom to Ian Curtis' daughter, Natalie. It has remained in her possession ever since.

'The guitar came to me at a time in my life when I was keen to learn more about my late father. I'm not at all musical, yet it is fascinating to see my father's guitar, I mean, it's such a personal thing. Since I'm a visual person, the Phantom is especially interesting to me, as the design is rather unusual. I grew up around and have worked with musicians, and although I've seen a lot of guitars, I've never seen anything like this. From everything I've been told about my father, he was very obsessed with how things looked, and so to me the Phantom makes sense as it very much feels like Ian Curtis's guitar. It's obviously super cool, regardless of its previous owner, and it sounds great, and even though I wouldn't know what the hell to do with them, the geek in me loves all the built-in effects. If I had any kind of aptitude, it's the sort of guitar I'd want for myself! As I didn't know my father, it's quite special to gain this further insight and to discover that our tastes align.'

Natalie Curtis, 2020.


George Harrison's Rare Fretless Electric Guitar, Presented to Harrison in 1967

Made by Bartell of California in 1967, this unconventional fretless guitar, which was owned by George Harrison and played by John Lennon, will also be offered in the sale. It has an estimate of £200,000-300,000.

Presented to George in Los Angeles in August 1967, the guitar remained in Harrison's collection until 1984 when it was gifted to the present owner, session guitarist Ray Russell, when they were working together on the music for the Handmade Films production, Water.

The guitar is also believed to have been played by Lennon during an interview that took place at Abbey Road Studios in 1968, as part of The Kenny Everett Show. The interview was typically unstructured and chaotic, and at multiple points, John can be heard playing a guitar in the background of the recording. Everett asks: "What kind of guitar's that, it's fairly strange-looking...?" to which John replies "A fretless guitar". The guitar is later seen in a photograph of Harrison with his guitar collection at Friar Park, near Henley in 1974 – in which the fretless electric guitar is clearly visible to the left of his elbow.

Head of Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia Department, Claire Tole-Moir, commented: "It is a privilege to offer two guitars owned by two much-loved British musical heroes. Although the guitars both date from 1967, their unique designs and pioneering previous owners define not just two generations, but two entirely different genres, making them an important part of British musical history."

Original Concept Artwork for Coldplay's Album 'A Head Full of Dreams'

Offered on behalf of Oxfam

The original collage created by Coldplay and contemporary artist Pilar Zeta as cover art for the band's hugely successful album A Head Full Of Dreams released in 2015, is offered on behalf of Oxfam. It has an estimate of £20,000-30,000.

A Head Full Of Dreams was the seventh studio album by Coldplay. It has sold over 7 million copies worldwide and was nominated for 'British Album of the Year' at the 2016 Brit Awards. This large collage was a collaboration between the artist Pilar Zeta and Coldplay. It was conceived and created during album recording sessions in the band's London studio. The collage was used for the album's cover art and accompanying booklet. It also featured as cover art for all of the album's singles and as the screen visuals throughout the record-breaking 'A Head Full Of Dreams' tour.

Danny Sriskandarajah, Chief Executive of Oxfam GB, said: "All funds raised from the purchase of this item will support Oxfam's global work to help stop the spread of coronavirus, including providing handwashing facilities, clean water and soap.

"We're incredibly grateful to Coldplay's support for Oxfam over nearly two decades and for their generosity in donating this very special artwork to help some of the world's most vulnerable communities through the pandemic."

Head of Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia department, Claire Tole-Moir, adds: "Bonhams is delighted to support Oxfam and Coldplay by offering this fantastic piece of important original album artwork. This wonderful work was created by Coldplay themselves, along with contemporary artist Pilar Zeta, and it became the concept art used for the band's hugely successful album, 'A Head Full of Dreams', in 2015. With vintage photographs of the band when young, and drawings made by the band's children, this one-off piece gives collectors and fans a personal insight to Coldplay and their creativity. Thank you, Coldplay, for your generous donation. We hope to achieve a great result at auction in support of Oxfam's Covid-19 appeal."

Further highlights in the sale include:

• Enki Bilal (French, b.1951): The original artwork used on the cover of the Duran Duran film 'Arena (An Absurd Notion)', 1984. Estimate: £50,000-70,000.
• Annie Lennox's Steinway Grand Piano owned and used at her home £20,000-30,000. With proceeds going to her charity 'The Circle' which supports women to make a significant difference towards a fairer and more equal world.
• Iain Macmillan's Hasselblad camera that shot the Beatles famous 'Abbey Road' album cover, £2,000-2,500.

The sale will also feature a section of lots sold on behalf of BAFTA.


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