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B.B. King’s 80th birthday “Lucille” sold at auction for $280,000

The guitar gifted to B.B. King on his 80th birthday by Gibson has just sold for $280,000. The iconic “Lucille” Gibson ES-345 guitar became a staple for King, used as his primary stage guitar in his late years.

Julien’s Auctions is currently auctioning the Estate of B.B. King, and the guitar was the centrepiece. Estimated to sell for around $80,000 to $100,000, the final price was well beyond what was expected.

B. B. King Lucille Gibson Guitar
Photo: Debra L Rothenberg/Getty Images

The guitar favoured by B.B. King in his later years, given to him by Gibson for his 80th birthday, has just sold for $280,000.

The limited-edition black “Lucille” guitar has a few notable features, including a headstock bearing the words “BB King 80” and a mother-of-pearl crown, a pickguard also imprinted with a crown and “BB King” in gold, as well as custom “BB” covers on the pickups. The guitar also had a hard leather case with his name embroidered in gold.

Last year Gibson released a “Lucille” model in Alpine White as a tribute to King’s tradition of calling all of his guitars by that name.

The custom came about one night after King was playing a show in Arkansas in the 1940s and a fire broke out. Realising he’d left his guitar inside, he ran into the collapsing building to rescue it, risking his life in the process. He later discovered the fire had been caused by a brawl between two men, who had been fighting over a woman named Lucille. He named his guitar Lucille to serve as a reminder “to never do a thing like that again.”

Nicknamed “The King of Blues”, the 15-time Grammy winner is considered one of the most influential blues musicians of all time and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1987. King toured the world extensively during his long career, passing away in 2015.

Julien’s Auction features almost 600 items owned and used by the icon. Other noteworthy items that have sold include a black 2005 Gibson ES-345 Special Edition Lucille given to King on his 83rd birthday, a Gibson ES-355 Stereo model from 1969, a sunburst Gibson Custom model, and King’s gold-finished “Merry Christmas” Gibson Lucille, which features a Christmas tree drawing on the body.

The auction closes on Monday the 30th of September. For more info head to the website.