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BB King's 80th birthday Gibson ES-345 Lucille sold at auction for $280,000

(Image credit: Instagram: Julien's Auctions)

The ES-345 Lucille that Gibson gave to BB King (opens in new tab) on his 80th Birthday was sold at auction on Saturday 21 September – World Guitar Day (opens in new tab) – for $280,000.

The semi-hollow electric guitar (opens in new tab) was much-loved by King, who played it extensively on  tour, and was sold with the gold-embossed custom hardcase included. 

The Lucille was just one of many items listed by Julien's Auctions (opens in new tab), which is currently selling a mine of BB King treasures from his estate, with signed production model guitars having been sold alongside what seems like the King of the Blues' entire wardrobe. There are ties, shoes, cufflinks and cumberbands – even his 2010 Savana G35 touring van and signature diamond ring were put under the hammer.

Twenty-two round-cut diamonds spelling out BB's initials and it still isn't as valuable as his 80th birthday "Lucille" ES-345

Twenty-two round-cut diamonds spelling out BB's initials and it still isn't as valuable as his 80th birthday "Lucille" ES-345 (Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

King's 80th birthday Lucille was, however, the pick of the lot. It's a regal guitar, and like off-pink tuxedos, it's really only the sort of thing BB King could pull off.

The ES-345's headstock alone is a work of art, with crown inlay and "BB King 80" in MOP inlay, relegating the Gibson logo to the gold-trimmed truss-plate. The rear of the headstock reads Protoype 1, as this was the first of 80 strictly limited edition models, while  the pickguard has more signature crown decoration in gold. Even the pickups are monogrammed in gold. 

There are no details on the buyer as yet. The BB King auction closes on 7 October at 11am California time. You can view the catalogue here (opens in new tab).

Now, that stuff costs a lot of money, but you can check out our BB King lesson for free here (opens in new tab).

BB King Lucille Gibson ES-345 auction

(Image credit: Julien's Auctions)

Jonathan Horsley has been writing about guitars and guitar culture since 2005, playing them since 1990, and regularly contributes to MusicRadar, Total Guitar and Guitar World. He uses Jazz III nylon picks, 10s during the week, 9s at the weekend, and shamefully still struggles with rhythm figure one of Van Halen’s Panama.

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