The collection of musical equipment belonging to late Steely Dan guitarist Walter Becker was auctioned off this past weekend. It raised $3.3 million, more than double the anticipated total of $1.4 million.
Billboard noted that Becker had amassed approximately 600 guitars and 400 amplifiers in his lifetime. According to his widow, Becker, who died in 2017, had gear housed in storage spaces in New York and Hawaii. Plus, he had items all over their New York apartment, Delia Becker said, noting that “amps were lined up at the foot of the bed, under every table, the dining room table was all amps and then all the floor space.”
“It’s phenomenal,” said Darren Julien of Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills. “Who else had this many guitars and this many amps? Who else had a collection like this? It’s unbelievable. And he didn’t just buy them because they looked great. He literally played all of them, and that’s what made this collection unique.”
Among the guitars sold were a 1957 Fender Duo-Sonic seen in the liner notes of 1977’s Aja ($57,600), a green Stratocaster-style guitar made by Chihoe Hahn ($68,750), a 1959 Gretsch Tennessean personally signed by Chet Atkins ($12,800) and the red Roger Sadowsky Telecaster clone Becker regularly used in the mid-’90s ($25,600). Becker’s pedal board went for $32,000.
More than 1,000 people had registered to participate in the auction, with 25 buyers in the house’s gallery and many others bidding online or by telephone. Billboard reported that some of the buyers were “very famous rock stars,” though it didn’t provide any names.
“I’d rather have Walter here and not see all this stuff for sale,” said Jeff Greenberg of Village Studios, where Steely Dan often recorded. “But it’s pretty trippy, right? These are spectacular guitars. He was magical. Their records are still magical. It’s some of the greatest music ever made.”