Walter Becker Estate Auction Brings In $3.3 Million

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Over 1,000 pieces of musical equipment owned by late Steely Dan guitarist Walter Becker went up for auction over the weekend. Becker’s collection of approximately 600 guitars and 400 amps scored a haul of $3.3 million as per Billboard’s report.

Walter Becker died of esophageal cancer in 2017 and his estate tapped Julien’s Auctions to sell the gear he amassed. The auction marked the biggest collection of musical gear sold by the firm in its 17-year-history. “It’s phenomenal,” Darren Julien, owner of Julien’s Auctions, told Billboard. “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.”

The $3.3 million far exceeded initial estimates, which according to Billboard was in the $1 – $2 million range. Julien’s Auctions announced the sale last month and issued a near 600-page catalog detailing the lots. The auction took place in Beverly Hills on Friday, October 18 and Saturday, October 19 and was attended in-person by approximately 25 buyers with over 1,000 people registered online to participate.

Billboard noted some of the highlights from the sale was a score of $57,600 for a 1957 Fender Duo-Sonic guitar that appears in the artwork for Steely Dan’s Aja album, $32,000 for a pedal board Becker used at home, $24,600 for a Sadowsky Telecaster-style guitar Walter played on tour in 1996 and $12,800 for a 1959 Gretsch guitar signed by Chet Atkins.

However, the largest sale was the $68,750 winning bid for a green Stratocaster-style guitar that Becker often used in concerts. Walter originally paid luthier Chihoe Hahn $3,400 for the axe in 2011. Becker’s widow, Delia, gave Hahn the chance to take the guitar following Walter’s death. “But then I changed my mind and said, ‘You know what? Put it in the auction. I think it will do really well,'” Hahn told Billboard and added “I’m in shock. I’m just in shock” at the price it garnered.