Mark Knopfler has said he wants to let his guitars have new adventures with new owners as he announced the sale of a collection of the instruments spanning his five-decade career.
Knopfler, who made Dire Straits one of the the biggest bands in the world, is to sell 120 of his guitars and amps at Christie’s in London in January, with 25% of the proceeds going to charity.
The singer-songwriter said that wherever he went he still crossed streets to gaze at guitars in the windows of music shops – just as he did when he was growing up in the north-east of England.
“I’ve done that since I was a little kid,” he said. “I’ve lived with this love affair for over 60 years.”
The time had come, he said, “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.
“I’ll be sad to see them go but we’ve had wonderful times together and I can’t play them all.”
Knopfler, 74, was born in Glasgow and moved as a child to Blyth in Northumberland. He went to grammar school in Newcastle and told the BBC he would spend hours looking at the displays in JG Windows in the city’s Central Arcade, dreaming of the day he could have a guitar.
“I can still remember the first time I plucked up enough courage to pick one off the wall, with trembling fingers,” he said. “It was a Spanish guitar, and one of the Geordies in the shop said: ‘If you drop that, I’ll drop you’. I didn’t even know how to play. I was just desperate to have it in my hands.”
The guitars being sold range in estimate from £300 to £500,000.
Christie’s said the highlight of the sale, with an estimate of £300,000-500,000, was Knopfler’s 1959 vintage Gibson Les Paul Standard, which he used on his Sailing to Philadelphia tour in 2001 and Kill to Crimson tour in 2008.
It’s described as “true collector’s instrument, with a beautifully faded cherry-red sunburst finish”.
Also up for auction is a 1983 Les Paul that Knopfler used to record two of Dire Straits’ best-known songs: Money for Nothing and Brothers in Arms. He also used it on stage at Live Aid in 1985 when Sting sang vocals on Money for Nothing. The instrument has an estimate of £10,000-£15,000.