Mark Knopfler’s musical journey is nothing short of remarkable.
As a celebrated singer-songwriter, a virtuoso in the art of guitar playing, and the charismatic frontman of the iconic British band Dire Straits, he has left an indelible mark on the annals of music history.
His name is synonymous with musical excellence and innovation, and his legacy continues to resonate with fans and fellow musicians worldwide.
What sets Mark Knopfler apart is not just his exceptional talent but also his unwavering dedication to his craft. Over the span of five decades, he has meticulously curated a collection of more than 120 guitars and amplifiers, each possessing its unique sonic character.
These instruments have been faithful companions on his musical odyssey, accompanying him from the legendary stages of Dire Straits to his successful solo ventures and even the world of film soundtracks.
They are not just tools of the trade; they are a reflection of Knopfler’s deep connection to the art of music.
A Kaleidoscope of Sound
The guitars within Mark Knopfler’s collection represent a diverse and rich tapestry of sound. Among these treasures are renowned brands such as Fender, Gibson, Gretsch, and Martin, each with its own storied history and sonic signature.
Alongside these legendary names, the collection also includes custom-built masterpieces crafted by the skilled hands of luthiers like Rudy Pensa and John Suhr, as well as bespoke creations from artisans around the world.
What makes this collection truly exceptional is Knopfler’s discerning ear. Each guitar was carefully chosen for its individual sound and tone, serving as a vital element in the creation of his music.
From the soulful resonance of a vintage Gibson to the crisp notes of a Fender Stratocaster, these instruments have played an integral role in shaping the iconic sound that is unmistakably Mark Knopfler.
This collection is a testament to his dedication to the craft of guitar playing and his relentless pursuit of sonic perfection.
Striking a Chord of Generosity
Beyond the strings and frets, Mark Knopfler’s auction of these cherished guitars is a heartfelt expression of his philanthropic spirit. In a world where music has the power to transcend boundaries, Knopfler has chosen to give back to causes close to his heart.
A Solid-body Electric Guitar, Artist’s Prototype, Mark Knopfler Signature Stratocaster
Right: Gibson Incorporated, Nashville, Tennessee, 1985
An Acoustic Guitar, J-200 Anniversary, Celebrity
A remarkable 25% of the total hammer price from this auction will be generously divided and donated to charitable organizations, including The British Red Cross, Tusk, and Brave Hearts of the North East.
This act of generosity adds another layer of significance to the collection. It’s not just about acquiring iconic guitars; it’s about making a positive impact on the world.
Knopfler’s decision to support these charities through the proceeds of the auction underscores the profound connection between music and compassion. It’s a harmonious blend of artistry and altruism, making this auction an event that resonates far beyond the realm of music.
A Symphony of Estimates
The estimated worth of these guitars, each a priceless artefact of musical history, spans a wide spectrum, from a modest £300 to an awe-inspiring £500,000. This vast range ensures that this extraordinary event is inclusive and accessible to music enthusiasts of all kinds.
Whether you are a seasoned collector with a discerning eye for vintage gems or an aspiring musician with a dream, Mark Knopfler’s collection offers a guitar to resonate with every soul.
For those entering the world of guitar collecting, the prospect of owning a piece of Mark Knopfler’s legacy is an enticing one. The more affordable options provide an entry point into the world of iconic guitars, allowing newcomers to embark on their own musical journey.
At the same time, the higher-end treasures beckon seasoned collectors, offering the opportunity to own a piece of music history that has not only witnessed but also contributed to some of the most iconic melodies of our time.
It’s a symphony of possibilities, where the love for music and appreciation for craftsmanship converge.
A World Tour of Guitars
Mark Knopfler’s beloved guitars are not confined to a static display; they are set to embark on a tour of their own, echoing the musician’s own globe-trotting adventures.
The collection’s journey begins with a public exhibition in New York from the 9th to the 13th of December, providing fans and enthusiasts in the Big Apple with a chance to get up close and personal with these musical treasures.
A Semi-Hollowbody Electric Guitar, ES-335 TN
Right: Pensa-Suhr, New York, 1988
A Solid-Body Electric Guitar, MK-1
Following this transatlantic sojourn, the guitars will make their way to Christie’s headquarters in London for a pre-sale exhibition that will enchant visitors from the 19th to the 30th of January 2024.
This showcase is a unique opportunity for admirers of Mark Knopfler and his music to witness the instruments that have been the faithful companions of his creative journey.
It’s a chance to see, hear, and feel the history and artistry embodied in each guitar. This world tour is not just about guitars; it’s a musical pilgrimage that offers a deeper connection to the magic of music.
Mark Knopfler’s Love Affair with Guitars
In the poetic words of Mark Knopfler himself, his relationship with guitars transcends the ordinary. He shares, “Wherever I go, I’m still crossing streets to look at guitars in the windows of music shops. I’ve done that since I was a little kid. I’ve lived with this love affair for over sixty years.”
These words encapsulate the deep and abiding passion that has been the driving force behind this remarkable collection.
For Mark Knopfler, these guitars are not mere instruments; they are cherished companions that have witnessed the ebb and flow of creativity throughout his life. They have been there in the quiet moments of songwriting between tours, offering solace and inspiration.
They have resonated in the hushed corners of hotel rooms and dressing rooms, filling the air with melodies that have touched hearts around the world. Knopfler’s love affair with guitars is a testament to the enduring romance between a musician and his tools of expression.
A Bittersweet Farewell
Acknowledging the emotional aspect of parting with these cherished guitars, Knopfler reflects, “It’s time to take some of these treasured six-string companions out of their cases and leave them in the care of Christie’s to allow them to have new adventures with new owners.”
This bittersweet farewell is a poignant moment for the musician, as he prepares to bid adieu to old friends who have been his steadfast companions on his musical journey.
While sadness may accompany their departure, Knopfler’s sentiment is one of hope and anticipation. He extends his warm wishes to fellow players, enthusiasts, and collectors, hoping that these guitars will bring joy and inspiration to their new owners.
It’s a heartfelt farewell, imbued with the understanding that music, like life itself, is a journey of constant change and evolution.
Amelia Walker, Christie’s Specialist Head of Private and Iconic Collections in London, radiates enthusiasm about the upcoming auction.
She eagerly states, “We are thrilled to be offering this incredible group of guitars for sale, including so many that played a key role in the musical upbringing of generations of fans, young and old, around the world.”
Her excitement underscores the significance of these instruments, which have not only shaped Mark Knopfler’s remarkable career but have also left an indelible mark on the world of music.
From the perspective of a renowned auction house like Christie’s, this collection represents a unique convergence of art, history, and music. It’s an opportunity to curate an event that celebrates the legacy of a musical icon and provides a platform for enthusiasts and collectors to acquire pieces of that legacy.
Amelia Walker’s words reflect the anticipation and reverence that Christie’s holds for this extraordinary auction, which promises to be a momentous occasion in the world of music and collectables.
The Crown Jewels of the Collection
At the heart of this collection lies the crown jewel, Mark Knopfler’s 1959 Vintage Gibson Les Paul Standard. This iconic instrument witnessed historic performances on the Sailing To Philadelphia Tour in 2001 and the Kill To Get Crimson Tour in 2008.
A Solid-Body Electric Guitar, Les Paul Standard
Right: Schecter Guitar Research, Van Nuys, California, 1983
A Solid-Body Electric Guitar In The Manner Of A Telecaster Custom
Its estimated value, ranging from £300,000 to £500,000, attests to the instrument’s unparalleled significance in the world of music.
This vintage beauty carries with it not just the weight of its price tag but also the soul of countless melodies. It’s a guitar that has not only played a role in shaping Mark Knopfler’s musical journey but has also contributed to the collective soundtrack of generations.
To own this instrument is to possess a piece of history, a key to unlock the timeless tunes that have resonated with music lovers for decades. In the grand symphony of guitars, the 1959 Vintage Gibson Les Paul Standard is a shining star, illuminating the path of music aficionados and collectors alike.
The Rare Blonde Beauty
Among the exceptional guitars in Mark Knopfler’s collection, one that stands out is the 1958 Gibson ES-335, a rare ‘blonde’ ES-335 with an unbound fingerboard. This instrument, estimated at £60,000-90,000, is a true rarity in the world of guitars.
It holds a special place in Knopfler’s collection not only for its unique aesthetics but also for its historical significance. This ES-335 is one of the select few that rolled out of the Gibson factory during the inaugural year of production for the semi-Hollowbody electric guitar.
The ‘blonde’ finish adds a distinctive charm to this guitar, making it a visual masterpiece. Beyond its stunning appearance, it carries with it the echoes of a bygone era in the music industry.
As a piece of vintage craftsmanship, it serves as a tangible link to the roots of rock ‘n’ roll and the evolution of electric guitars. In the hands of a musician like Mark Knopfler, this ES-335 has undoubtedly contributed to the creation of timeless melodies, and now, it awaits a new chapter in its storied history.
A Stratocaster-Les Paul Fusion
The 1988 Pensa-Suhr MK-1 is a guitar that adds an extra layer of enchantment to Mark Knopfler’s illustrious collection. Crafted with precision and completed in record time for Knopfler’s performance at the Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute concert on June 11, 1988, at Wembley Stadium, this unique instrument offers an estimated value of £6,000-8,000.
What sets it apart is its innovative design—a fusion of the iconic Stratocaster and the legendary Les Paul.
This guitar was not just a creative experiment; it served a practical purpose in Knopfler’s live performances. Designed to reduce the need for frequent guitar changes during shows, it allowed for seamless transitions between different musical moments.
The 1988 Pensa-Suhr MK-1 played a significant role in Dire Straits‘ music during this era, adding a touch of versatility to Knopfler’s sonic arsenal. It’s a testament to the musician’s quest for musical excellence and his willingness to push boundaries to achieve it.
The Red Schecter Telecaster
Another star of Mark Knopfler’s collection is the 1984 Red Schecter Telecaster, estimated at £4,000-6,000. This vermillion red workhorse is not just a guitar; it’s a witness to music history.
It recorded the iconic Dire Straits song ‘Walk Of Life’ and played a crucial role throughout the band’s illustrious journey.
This guitar’s vibrant red finish mirrors the energy and passion that Knopfler infused into his performances. Its live appearances are etched in the memories of fans, from the historic Nelson Mandela 70th Birthday Tribute Concert in 1988 to the captivating moments captured on the 1996 live concert DVD ‘A Night in London.’
The Red Schecter Telecaster is not just an instrument; it’s a symbol of the enduring spirit of rock ‘n’ roll and the power of music to ignite hearts and souls.
The Gibson J-200 Celebrity
The Gibson J-200 Celebrity, produced in a limited run of only 90 instruments to commemorate the 90th anniversary of the Gibson Company in 1985, is another precious find in Mark Knopfler’s collection.
Knopfler’s J-200, numbered 40 out of 90, carries an estimated value of £5,000-7,000. This guitar’s significance extends beyond its rarity; it has been a part of poignant musical moments.
This J-200 was present during a memorable performance with Chet Atkins, where both musicians used their J-200s to play John Lennon’s ‘Imagine’ and the classic 1924 song ‘I’ll See You In My Dreams.’
This heartfelt performance took place at The Secret Policeman’s Third Ball in aid of Amnesty International, held at The London Palladium from March 26th to 29th, 1987. The Gibson J-200 Celebrity represents the union of music and a noble cause, underscoring the capacity of music to inspire positive change.
The Fender Mark Knopfler Signature Stratocaster Prototype
The Fender Mark Knopfler Signature Stratocaster Prototype is a testament to the artist’s enduring innovation and respect for his musical influences. Crafted through a collaboration between Knopfler and iconic California guitar makers in 2003, this prototype combines elements from a ’62 reissue neck dated 2002 and a 1997 body.
Finished in Knopfler’s favourite Hot Rod red, it carries an estimated value of £4,000-6,000.
This unique instrument is more than just a guitar; it’s a bridge between the past and the present. It pays homage to Knopfler’s childhood hero, Hank Marvin of The Shadows, and embodies the spirit of innovation that has defined his musical career.
The Fender Mark Knopfler Signature Stratocaster Prototype is a modern classic, a fusion of tradition and contemporary craftsmanship, and a symbol of the artist’s unwavering dedication to the art of music.
In conclusion, Mark Knopfler’s Guitar Collection is not merely a collection of instruments; it’s a living testament to the evolution of music and the soul-stirring melodies of one of the greatest guitarists of our time.
As these guitars find new homes, they carry with them a piece of history and the promise of creating new music for generations to come. The auction on the 31st of January 2024 in London is an event that no music lover or collector should miss.
It’s a symphony of sound, history, and generosity, all orchestrated under the gavel of Christie’s.