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Legal Issues Settled, Dylan's Guitar May Sell For $500,000

Now that Bob Dylan's no longer talking about it not being the guitar he played when he famously went electric at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, a sunburst Fender Stratocaster is to be auctioned by Christie's on Dec. 6.

The pre-sale hype has it going for as much as $500,000.

We wrote last July about how PBS-TV's History Detectives had what experts were saying sure looked to be one of the most famous guitars in rock 'n' roll history — the one Dylan played at that 1965 show. It had supposedly ended up with a New Jersey woman, Dawn Peterson, who said Dylan left the guitar behind on a plane her father was flying way back in '65.

But, as we wrote, Dylan was saying otherwise: "According to his lawyer ... the singer-songwriter says he still has the Fender Stratocaster he played on stage that day."

Since then, Peterson has "settled a legal dispute with the musician that will allow her to sell the guitar," as Rolling Stone has written.

"One term of the agreement that I obviously can disclose is that Mr. Dylan will participate in the sale to the extent that he will be signing off on any ownership interest after the sale," Peterson's attorney, Christopher DeFalco, told Rolling Stone.

This week, Rolling Stone adds that "other details from the settlement, including whether Dylan would receive any money from the auction, were kept confidential."

The Associated Press says "Dylan's attorney and his publicist did not respond to email and phone requests for comment."

Among the evidence that leads experts to conclude it is the Strat Dylan used at Newport: The wood grain matches that in photos of the guitar taken at the festival and inside its case were fragments of hand-written and typed lyrics from some of Dylan's songs.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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