Mike Carparelli and the Damien Hirst–painted guitar. Photo courtesy of Carparelli.
Remember the Imagine Concert? Of course you do! Remember how we told you that despite its total collapse there was still a silver lining and the promise something good might come of it all? Well, that’s finally become a reality, thanks to the sale of a Carparelli Scarborough 9 guitar for $147,000 a couple of weeks ago.
When it went on the blocks at Christie’s in London, they estimated the guitar—the only one art superstar Damien Hirst has painted—would go for as little as one-third of what it finally brought in. As originally planned, the proceeds will go entirely to War Child.
You may recall, concertmeister David Kam came up with the idea of getting the guitars from Vaughan’s Mike Carparelli painted by world-famous artists, having them played at the concert-that-never-was, autographed by the performers, and then auctioned off. Once the concert fell through, Hirst decided his guitar should just go up for auction anyway.
Well, it did, and now it’s going to be sitting in the vault of some super-rich, anonymous dude from Hong Kong. Carparelli had sent the guitar off to England before it got painted and not seen the final product until he travelled there for the auction. The people at Christie’s gave him a little quality time with his instrument before the sale.
“Wow. I was just blown away,” Carparelli says of his first glance at the guitar. “Pictures just don’t do it justice.”
While Christie’s expected the guitar to fetch no more than $80,000, Carparelli was taking nothing for granted as bidding began. “I didn’t know what to think. My thinking was just, ‘please sell,’” Carparelli says.
A second guitar, painted by Jim Warren, is still set to go up soon. That one has already been signed by Kris Kristofferson, Alex Lifeson and members of the Beach Boys. It might not sell for as much as Hirst’s, but we certainly wouldn’t mind hanging it on a wall.
There’s been an unfortunate amount of behind-the-scenes drama and acrimony around something that’s so hopeful and positive on paper as Imagine, but for Kam, the auction is something of a sign that the dream is still alive. Call him an optimist, but Kam insists after a rushed attempt by an ill-equipped team, they’re going it right on the next attempt, and will put on a big-time concert in Toronto.
Carparelli, unsurprisingly, is happy with the chance his local company got to make a bit of artistic and charitable history. He hopes to keep the charity thing going and says they are close to getting other big-name artists involved in future fundraisers.