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Thursday, February 15, 2024

Paul McCartney’s lost Höfner bass is found


Last updated on March 31, 2024

In October 2019, Höfner, the manufacturer of the violin bass used by Paul McCartney since the early 1960s, launched an online campaign to search for Paul’s first bass guitar, a Höfner 500/1 model purchased in 1961. Its last confirmed sighting came during the filming of The Beatles’ “Get Back” sessions on January 21, 1969, fueling rumours of its disappearance from Apple Studios in Savile Row around that time.

The campaign was relaunched in September 2023 and helped to debunk this rumour when Ian Horne, who was a roadie with Wings, reported that the bass was stolen on October 10, 1972, from the Ladbroke Grove area of Notting Hill, west London.

This highly publicised breakthrough led the Guest family in East Sussex to a surprising discovery. The old bass guitar, languishing in the family’s attic, matched the description perfectly. Realizing its historical significance, Cathy Guest contacted the campaign, and on February 15, 2024, the news broke: after 51 years, Paul McCartney’s first bass had been found and returned to its owner.

Following the launch of last year’s Lost Bass project, Paul’s 1961 Höfner 500/1 bass guitar, which was stolen in 1972, has been returned. The guitar has been authenticated by Höfner and Paul is incredibly grateful to all those involved.

From Paul McCartney | News | Statement on Höfner Bass, February 15, 2023

I was cataloguing a number of guitars that I’ve got and when I googled it, it immediately came up. That’s when I thought ‘Well maybe this is it.’ […] I’m delighted he’s got it back. We love our live music, we love gigs. That’s our family’s hobby. He’s happy… and we can get on with our lives now and let it be!

Cathy Guest – From East Sussex mum-of-two ’panicked’ to find Sir Paul McCartney’s famous bass in loft after 28 years | ITV News Meridian, February 16, 2024

As a family we will be releasing details in due course. We have been inundated with media wanting to know our story. Thank you for all your support.

From Rassilon Productions (Ruaidhri Guest) (@RassilonP) / X (twitter.com)

From The Lost Bass Found!:

We are extremely proud that we played a major part in finding the Lost Bass. It has been a dream since 2018 that it could be done. Despite many telling us that it was lost forever or destroyed, we persisted until it was back where it belonged. We want to thank everyone who helped with the search, all those who sent us leads and ideas and many who just wanted to lend their support to us. Thank you all so very much. Very much indeed! We did it!

This is the news you have all been waiting so patiently for. Finally, after so much searching and investigation, we have Paul’s Lost Bass back with him.

Can you imagine how excited Paul was when he heard the news!

The bass is complete and still with its original case. It will need some repairs to make it playable again, but a team of professionals can easily carry these out.

The search began in 2018 but received no really useful leads for some time. It was only when Scott and Naomi Jones joined the search in May 2023 that things really started to move forward.

Following worldwide coverage by the press and media of the search, the first useful leads were received. Acting on these, the team could begin to pinpoint exactly what happened to the stolen bass.

We received over 100 leads and suggestions about the Lost Bass plus over 600 people contacted us offering their help! Wow! We were taken aback at the response.

We received information about the actual theft, that it had been stolen from the back of a 3 ton van during the night of 10th October 1972, in the Notting Hill area of London. This was the breakthrough we needed.

We quickly realised that this information corresponded exactly with a story we had received in an email about the bass being stolen. With some detective work we were able to discover exactly who had stolen the bass,

Further to this we gained information about what the thief did with the bass – they sold it to the landlord of a pub in the Notting Hill area.

Looking into old records we established who that was and then gained further information about what happened next, who had the bass and what was done with it. We were able to trace the bass over the years.

On September 2nd 2023 we wrote an article for The Sunday Telegraph newspaper outlining the search and who was on the team. We didn’t expect it to go very far, but it caught the imagination of 1000s of people. Within a week it was in newspapers all over the world. We were asked to do numerous interviews and appear on several television news broadcasts.

As a result of the publicity someone living in a terraced house on the south coast of England remembered an old bass guitar that was in their attic. They got this out and realised just what they had. Within days it was back with Paul McCartney!

From The Sun, February 15, 2024:

[…] On Tuesday, a young student claimed the instrument was left to him as part of an inheritance, but has subsequently been returned its legendary owner. Sharing a photo of the guitar on X, formerly Twitter, film enthusiast Ruaidhri Guest tweeted: “To my friends and family I inherited this item which has been returned to Paul McCartney. Share the news.

Macca and his team are understood to be in touch with the family, and likely to pay them a reward.

A source said: “Sir Paul is absolutely thrilled. It is an unbelievable turn of events and he is over the moon to be reunited with it. It was always close to his heart, and was known as his favourite instrument – so it is great that it has got back to where it once belonged! It shows there are some great people in the world as someone could have tried to sell it or cash in on it. It is wonderful that he has got it back at this time of his life, and Sir Paul will want to keep it for the rest of his days.” […]

Sources said the family – who found the Hofner in a loft while clearing a house – are said to have approached Sir Paul and reps at his home. The guitar has been inspected and authenticated as genuine. When it was found, the family are said to have had “no idea” at the treasure in their attic, at first.

A separate source said: “It is lucky it did not end up on eBay – it was very close to being sold online. The instrument was part of a collection but was gathering dust in a loft. Luckily, after it was found the family saw some publicity about Hofner’s Lost Bass project and looked into it. Apparently a relative had inherited it and had no idea where it had come from or its history. It is amazing to think it is so central to Beatlemania and part of history – and it was just lying in the loft. After hearing about the Lost Bass project, they took the guitar to Paul’s home in East Sussex. They live quite close to him – by coincidence – and they spoke to security there and that’s how it all got started. His people showed them pictures of the instrument they were looking for and it matched with what they had found.

The source added: “It is amazing – and they are thrilled it is back with its rightful owner, Sir Paul. His people eventually sent someone round to pick it up.

Sources said the family wanted to “stay out of the limelight”. […]

Thank you to everyone that has wished us well and support received. We have concluded negotiations with MPL and Sir Paul McCartney. We are under a contract so unable to discuss that but do have freedom to talk with the media now. We remain in discussions with them This is such an exciting time and I can’t wait to talk about the story going forward and it’s going to be an amazing time. Thank you everyone for your patience and support!

Ruaidhri Guest – From Ruaidhri Guest on X (twitter.com), March 19, 2024

From The Sun, March 28, 2024:

SIR Paul McCartney has handed a hefty reward to a family who returned his beloved bass guitar 50 years after it was stolen. The Beatle, 81, has also sent his thanks to Cathy Guest, who found the four-string Höfner instrument — worth an estimated £10million — in her loft. It comes after weeks of negotiations between Cathy, 52, and his music publishing company MPL. […]

A source said: “They have now agreed a deal and the family have been given a very significant thank-you fee. Sir Paul has also expressed his gratitude to Cathy and the family.” It is understood the reward is a six-figure sum. […]

Paul McCartney writing

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