David Gilmour Sells His Guitars For A Record-Breaking $21.5 million For Climate Change

Pierre Van Zyl

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david-gilmourRocker David Gilmour, a member of Pink Floyd, one of the most commercially successful and influential groups in popular music history, recently auctioned 120 guitars from his massive collection for over $21 million and donated it all to fighting global warming.

Few musicians can boast of a more successful career than that of David Jon Gilmour, an English singer, songwriter, and guitarist who was a member of the progressive rock band Pink Floyd. However, he recently came into the limelight with his record-breaking charity guitar auction which broke the record this year for the largest guitar collection sold at a charity auction.

Gilmour, 73, has had an interesting run both as a solo musician and as a member of Pink Floyd. Although most people today may not be familiar with this hugely successful rock band, they were a huge deal in the 80s. Pink Floyd was an English rock band sensation that achieved international acclaim with their progressive music, philosophical lyrics, sonic experimentation, extended compositions, and elaborate live shows. 

He joined the band as guitarist and co-lead vocalist in 1968 and by the early 1980s, they had become one of the best-selling and most acclaimed acts in music history. He later assumed leadership in 1985. By 2012, the band had sold more than 250 million records worldwide before disbanding in 2014. [1]

During this time, he was inducted into both the UK Music Hall of Fame and the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Gilmour was awarded the Outstanding Contribution title at the 2008 Q-Awards and made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire. He was also ranked number 14 on the Rolling Stone’s list of the greatest guitarists of all time  and voted number 36 in the greatest voices in rock by Planet Rock listeners in 2009. [2]

With this impressive list of accomplishments, it’s no surprise that an auction of Gilmour’s guitars would bring so much attention especially since it is for a worthy cause – to combat climate change. 

A monumental auction

The auction which was held at the Christie’s Auction House in New York where Gilmour sold off 123 of his precious and famed guitars, obtaining bids from over 2,000 bidders in 66 countries. The collection raised a lot of money – breakin the record for the most expensive guitar collection sold at a charity auction, selling for a total of $21,198,250 including buyer’s premium. [3]

The items auctioned include iconic guitars by Rickenbacker, Fender, Gibson, Ovation, C.F. Martin and Gretsch. The collection also included several guitar cases, amps, and even a banjo. However, the most sought-after item amongst the collection was Gilmour’s most fabled guitar; a black Fender Stratocaster guitar called ‘The Black Strat’ which was snatched up for $3,975,000, a new world record for a guitar at auction. [4]

The Black Strat, which is almost as famous as the rock icon himself, was integral in creating several Pink Floyd albums including Wish You Were Here, Dark Side of The Moon, The Wall, and Animals. Unsurprisingly, the guitar received many bids and achieved the record for the most expensive guitar sold at a charity auction, accounting for a fifth of the total collection’s sale.

Funding a worthy cause

Gilmour donated all of the profits from the auction to the liberal activist group ClientEarth, a non-profit organization dedicated to environmental law. On its Facebook page, ClientEarth claims that it works to “defend wildlife and their habitats” and “combat climate change.” [5]

Gilmour explains why he sold his guitars to support ClientEarth, saying: “The global climate crisis is the greatest challenge that humanity will ever face, and we are within a few years of the effects of global warming becoming irreversible.”

“I hope that the sale of these guitars will help ClientEarth in their actions to use the law to bring about real change. We need a civilized world that goes on for all our grandchildren and beyond, in which these guitars can be played, and songs can be sung.” [3]

ClientEarth was understandably impressed by the staggering $21.5 million donations. 

“This is a truly humbling and extraordinary gift, which goes beyond our wildest expectations. It’s difficult to express just how deeply grateful we are to David for choosing ClientEarth as the beneficiary of this historic auction,” said CEO, James Thornton. [6]

Gilmour’s grand gesture may have a broader impact, acting as a spark to persuade others to swap their mementos for cash to help solve our climate emergency. [7] He, however, took the time to assure fans that this didn’t mean the end of his music career saying:

“Don’t fret too much. I still have a few lovely guitars that I couldn’t let go… It does not mean retirement.”

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