Julien’s Auctions announced today that a historic discovery has been made about their previously announced marquee item in their upcoming Music Icons auction - Prince’s 1984 blue Cloud electric guitar - which has been confirmed to be the seven-time Grammy award winning artist’s long lost "blue angel" guitar. It will be sold at the previously announced MUSIC ICONS to take place on Friday, June 19th and Saturday, June 20th live in Beverly Hills and online at juliensauctions.com.
From 1984 until the time that Andy Beech began making Cloud guitars for Prince in 1993, this was Prince’s primary performance Cloud guitar. It is considered one of the most historically important guitars played by Prince that will ever come up for auction and used during the height of his career in the 1980s and 1990s. The legendary guitar was played by The Purple One in his most iconic career performances on stage and screen including: his tours for "Purple Rain" (1984-1985), "The Parade Tour" (1986), "Sign o’ the Times," (1987), "Lovesexy," (1988-1989) and "Diamonds and Pearls" (1992), Saturday Night Live’s "15th Anniversary Special," (September 24th, 1989), the 1991 MTV Video Music Awards, his legendary 1991 appearance on The Arsenio Hall Show in a 20-minute set that included his performances of "Let’s Go Crazy", "Cream," and "Purple Rain," music videos for "Get Off" and "Cream," as well as photo appearances on the covers of Spin magazine (September 1991) and the film poster for the 1987 music documentary Sign o’ The Times.
The original white guitar is currently painted an electric blue and has been painted and refinished a number of times in white, peach, light blue, and yellow. The guitar neck is cracked from between the 6th and 7th frets up to the headstock and no longer has strings attached. The builders of the guitar include O’Hagan Guitar Company, Tommy Stinson, Dave Rusan, Mark Sampson and Barry Haugen.
After the guitar’s auction was announced, the world-record breaking auction house to the stars was contacted by John Woodland, who performs conservation work on Prince’s guitars at his fabled headquarters and home, Paisley Park and had been searching for the mythic "blue angel," whose moniker is named after its color. Woodland has spent a year and a half researching the origin and creation of all original Cloud guitars. He is also currently writing a book with former Knut Koupeé Music employee Gerald Ronning on the subject.
Julien’s Auctions contacted Westside Medical Imaging in Beverly Hills who conducted an unprecedented series of CT scans on this Prince guitar to go beneath the surface details of the instrument. Julien’s also consulted former Knut Koupeé employees as well as former O’Hagan guitar employee Dave Seaton to help them with their research.
Prince’s long association with the custom-made Cloud guitars famously began when the artist embarked on his most ambitious project to date, his starring role in the 1984 film Purple Rain. The script called for a scene showcasing a guitar in a shop window that would serve as "The Kid’s" object of desire. For this, Prince enlisted the help of legendary Minneapolis guitar shop Knut Koupeé Music. According to all accounts, Prince brought his Sardonyx bass, and explained that he would like to commission a guitar version of the instrument in white, with EMG pickups and gold hardware for use in the upcoming film. The team at Knut Koupeé set to work on creating Prince’s first Cloud guitar which would be featured in the film and would go on to became part of Prince’s iconography. While this first white Cloud Purple Rain guitar is on display at the Smithsonian Museum, this "blue angel" guitar is said to have been Prince’s favorite to use during live performances and was commissioned for the Purple Rain Tour.
The original estimate for the guitar was appraised at $100,000-$200,000; however, due to this recent discovery, the estimate has been raised to $400,000 - $600,000. It is accompanied by an oversized Calzone purple guitar road case.
"Not only is this a Prince guitar but of all his guitars that he played this is one of the greatest and most important Prince guitars that will ever come up for auction," said Darren Julien, President/Chief Executive Officer of Julien’s Auctions. "Julien’s Auctions is honored to have made this remarkable discovery of the "blue angel" that launched Prince’s stratospheric rise as a superstar and took center stage in some of his most legendary performances. We thank John Woodland for sharing his knowledge and research archive with us in this once in a lifetime find."
"This is the most comprehensive research on an instrument that I have ever been involved with and it has yielded the most conclusive and exciting results that we could have hoped for," said Laura Woolley, consulting specialist for Julien’s Auctions on this guitar.
"This is an exciting discovery as it’s been the missing piece of the puzzle. I’m beyond impressed at the in-depth work Darren Julien and his team have done in such a short time since its discovery," said John Woodland. "I hope Prince fans will enjoy the story of this guitar as much as I have enjoyed finding it."
In November 2017, Julien’s Auctions achieved the world record for the highest price ever paid for a Prince guitar sold at auction in its sale of a teal Cloud guitar which sold for $700,000 and Prince’s custom made played yellow Cloud guitar which sold for $225,000 in May 2018.
JULIEN’S AUCTIONS PUBLIC EXHIBITION & LIVE AUCTION LOCATION
257 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Monday, June 15th – Friday, June 19th, 2020
Daily: 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m. Pacific Time
Free to the Public
LIVE AND ONLINE AUCTION
Julien's Auctions Beverly Hills
257 N. Canon Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90210
Friday, June 19th, 2020
Session I: 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time
Session II: 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time
Saturday, June 20th, 2020
Session III: 10:00 a.m. Pacific Time
Session IV: 1:00 p.m. Pacific Time