Million-Dollar Martin, and more, on Auction in NYC

Posted on April 2, 2014

File under: guitars that had better stay in tune. And that’s the least the winning bidder of the 1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe being auctioned in New York April 3 should expect—especially since that rare Depression-era model is expected to go for as much as $2 million.

That pricey axe-quisition is among 265 rare guitars up for grabs this week through Guernsey’s auction house in New York City, where some of the finest instruments from such manufacturers as Martin, D’Angelico, Gibson, Gretsch, Epiphone, Washburn and others could go for in the tens and even hundreds of thousands of dollars.

The auction is titled “The Artistry of the Guitar”—and the instruments on offer are from the collection of businessman/acoustic-guitar collector Hank Risan. Risan made news in 2010 when his company BlueBeat Music agreed to a $950,000 settlement over a lawsuit filed by London-based EMI Group Ltd., which alleged BBM’s selling of “simulated” Beatles songs on its website was an infringement of copyright.

The starting bid for the 1930 Martin OM-45 Deluxe is $875,000. That particular model dates from just after the 1929 stock market crash, when the quality of Martin guitars were at a peak, but demand was at a Depression-era low. Fewer than fifteen of the OM-45 Deluxe models were made that year, and less than ten are known to still exist today.

“The Artistry of the Guitar” takes place from 7 to 9 p.m. on April 2 and 3 in the Bohemian National Hall. Bring your check book.

To hear how Martin guitars sounded back then, check out the above video of Tommy Emmanuel playing the very 1930 Martin used by Arthur Smith in his 1948 hit “Guitar Boogie.”—Jason Walsh

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