A guitar given to B.B. King for his 80th birthday has sold for $280,000 at an auction of items from the blues legend’s estate.
Julien’s Auctions says King often used the black Gibson ES-345 prototype that was one of several guitars he called “Lucille.” A spokeswoman for the auction house, Mozell Miley-Bailey, said Monday that the buyer wants to remain anonymous.
Before the auction, Julien’s estimated the guitar’s value at $80,000 to $100,000. The headstock has “B.B. King 80” and a crown inlaid with mother-of-pearl, and the guitar is autographed on the back. The Gibson company gave King the guitar as a gift.
Early in his career, King ran back into a burning nightclub to rescue his guitar, and he later learned the fire started when two men were fighting over a woman named Lucille. King said he never met the woman but started naming his guitars Lucille as a reminder to never again endanger his own life.
The auction of more than 550 items from King’s estate took place in Los Angeles on Saturday, a few days after what would have been his 94th birthday.
The 15-time Grammy winner was 89 when he died in 2015 in Las Vegas. He is buried next to the B.B. King Museum and Delta Interpretive Center in the small town of Indianola, Mississippi, near the community where he grew up picking cotton in the Delta flatlands.
The auction house said the estate sale brought in $1.3 million. It included awards, photographs, King’s passports, luggage, jewelry, clothing, audio equipment and other guitars.
A ring that King wore in photos sold for $16,250. It is 18-karat gold and has “BB” encrusted with 22 diamonds , and its initial estimated value was $6,000 to $8,000.
A collection of King’s 78 rpm blues records sold for $51,200, after an estimated value of $500 to $700.