Garcia Guitars Under the Hammer in December

. December 1, 2007 – Bonhams & Butterfields, international fine arts auctioneers, is proud to announce its star-studded winter line-up of vintage and contemporary film and television props and costumes will feature Rock ‘n Roll memorabilia from Grateful Dead member Jerry Garcia — to be offered in support of a charitable cause on Sunday, December 9, 2007 in Los Angeles.

Highlighting the Rock and Roll section of the sale are two guitars once owned by the legendary musician and leader of the iconic rock band The Grateful Dead. Consigned by Leon Day, former personal chauffeur to Jerry Garcia, are very special instruments being offered to support the building of a facility devoted to the treatment of Autism. “I’ve been blessed and challenged to have an almost 19-year-old Autistic son. Over the years, Autism has reached epidemic proportions and my hope is to open a center for Autism on the ‘Big Island’ of Hawaii. I am in the process of raising money for the center and I’m hoping Jerry’s past generosity will help me do this,” said Day.

The first guitar, a Steinberger headless electric guitar, circa 1980s (est. $45/50,000) has an iridescent, circular sticker on the back that Garcia placed there himself and it bears his hand-etched signature. Also included is the instrument’s original black soft-canvas carrying case plus a reprinted color image of Garcia holding this guitar.

According to Day, “The guitar was known as Garcia’s house or hotel practice guitar. It went everywhere he did. He’d used this instrument to record three songs with Ornette Coleman for the album Virgin Beauty.”

The second is a Casio PG-380 electric guitar, circa 1980s (est. $40/45,000). As with the Steinberger, Garcia has hand-etched his signature on the backside of the instrument. It comes with its Fender hard plastic guitar case, the case Garcia used to carry and store the instrument. The case displays two Grateful Dead stickers [both from 1988] as well as US Customs stickers. A letter of provenance from Day is included with both guitars.

“Garcia used the Casio from time to time during the Grateful Dead’s space sequence. I know he used it at the last Dead show on May 6, 1989 at Stanford University’s Frost Amphitheatre,” said Day.

Leon Day made his living driving limousines in the San Francisco Bay Area from 1980 until 1995. In February of 1980, he met and drove Jerry Garcia from the Dead’s San Rafael (Marin County, California) studios to the San Francisco Airport. For the next 15 years, Day would chauffer Garcia, carrying him to various locations until his death in August of 1995. Over the years, they became close friends.

According to Day, “Garcia was a generous man and got a kick from giving personal items to family and friends, as well as to members of the entire tribe.” Garcia gifted Day the Steinberger guitar on July 29, 1988, just as he was due to leave for three days of shows at the Laguna Seca Raceway in Monterey, California. Day was humored by Garcia’s words: “Hope you enjoy playing this, or you could sell it if you want!”

“Garcia was very supportive and motivating in my quest to improve my guitar playing and he encouraged me to look at more modern sounds and synthesizers, etc. He was really into music technology. I had fun with some of the gizmos he gave me and am happy to say he was proud of my achievements,” said Day. Garcia had been talking for a few weeks about a special effects guitar he had experimented with. Day arrived at Garcia’s house in San Rafael for a guitar lesson with the Steinberger and was again humored by Garcia’s seemingly echoed words as he handed the Casio guitar to him: “Hope you like this one, or you could sell it if you want!” Garcia then picked up a slim etching tool, flipped the Casio over, and signed it, as best as he could, saying it was now worth “fifty bucks more.” Garcia then picked up the Steinberger and signed that as well.

Additional highlights from the December sale include a Beatles Butcher Cover set of 4-color separations from the stereo version of the 1966 album (est. $10/15,000); a one-sheet film poster from David O. Selznick’s 1939 Academy Award®-winning epic Gone with the Wind (est. $10/15,000) and a prop Victorian style cut-glass inkwell from the 1964 Academy Award® winning film My Fair Lady (est. $1/1,500). A one-sheet film poster from 1961’s classic Breakfast at Tiffany’s features the famous image of Audrey Hepburn (est. $2/2,500) while a 5-foot 7-inch humanoid/amphibious creature from the classic 1954 Universal horror flick The Creature from the Black Lagoon is estimated at $3,000 to $5,000. An original “Vargas Girl” drawing by pin-up artist Alberto Vargas could bring as much as $5,000) and collector interest is expected for an original script for the 1954 holiday film White Christmas owned and used by Michael Curtiz (est. $3/5,000) and for an Archive never-before-seen items related to Marilyn Monroe.

Bonhams & Butterfields will also offer a collection of animation cells from classic Disney films and numerous vintage film posters for movies spanning the history of cinema, many to be offered without reserve.

The illustrated catalog will be available online for review and purchase at in the weeks preceding the sale and its previews.

Category: Auction News

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