Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler Sells Guitar Collection at Auction

Dire Straits’ Mark Knopfler Sells Guitar Collection at Auction

Music

An impressive collection of Mark Knopfler’s guitars and amps went under the hammer this week, raking in more than £8.8 million ($11 million) – a chunk of which goes to charity.

The Dire Straits frontman offloaded 120 instruments, auctioned Wednesday (Jan. 31) at Christie’s in London.

That gear was accumulated across a 50-year career, and was led by the sale of the northern Englishman’s 1959 Vintage Gibson Les Paul Standard, which changed hands for £693,000 ($884,000), a new world auction record for the model, the BBC reports.

Some of the bids blew estimates out of the water. Knopfler’s 1988 Pensa-Suhr MK-1, which he played at Nelson Mandela’s 70th birthday tribute concert at Wembley Stadium, in June 1988, went for £504,000 ($643,000), well up on its £8,000 ($10,000) estimate.

And his Red Schecter Telecaster, one of his “longest serving and most heavily toured instruments,” which Knopfler used on the Dire Straits hit from 1985 “Walk Of Life,” collected £415,800 ($530,000); the six-string had an estimate of just £6,000 ($7,600).

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Registered bidders and buyers for the auction chimed in from 61 countries. The total (including buyer’s premium) came in at £8,840,160, with a least a quarter of proceeds flowing equally to charities the British Red Cross, Tusk, and Brave Hearts of the North East.

Also, the Teenage Cancer Trust collects the total £403,200 raised from Knopfler’s 2021 Gibson Les Paul “gold top” guitar – signed by a slew of rock stars, including the late Jeff Beck, David Gilmour, Pete Townshend, Roger Daltrey and Slash.

“I hope they all get played,” he told BBC News of his guitar collection back in November, “I don’t think they do too well living in a case all their lives.”

Knopfler is widely recognized by his peers as one of the finest to ever play the electric guitar, his solo on “Sultans of Swing” essential listening for any guitarist keen to take the next step. Indeed, Knopfler slides in at No. 27 on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time”.

With Dire Straits’ fifth studio album, 1985’s Brothers In Arms, the English band landed one of the biggest hits of the decade — or any decade. The LP, which featured the Billboard Hot 100 leader “Money For Nothing,” reigned over the Official U.K. Albums Chart for 14 weeks, and led the Billboard 200 for nine weeks.

The LP shifted an estimated 30 million copies worldwide, and won two Grammys (best music video, short form for the title track, and best rock performance by a duo or group with vocal for “Money For Nothing”).

Dire Straits’ fanbase spread the globe. Their 1986 tour of Australia in support of Brothers In Arms sold 950,000 tickets, a record that stood for decades, until Ed Sheeran’s 2018 Divide tour pushed past the 1 million ticket milestone.

Though dormant since 1992, the group was inducted into the Rock And Roll Hall of Fame in 2018. Knopfler didn’t attend the ceremony in Cleveland.

Though Knopfler is now separated from many of his prized instruments, he’s not done with making music. His forthcoming 10th solo studio album, One Deep River, is slated for released on April 12.

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