They thought it would sell for somewhere between two and three million dollars. They thought wrong. Eddie Van Halen’s Kramer guitar used in the video for “Hot For Teacher” sold for a staggering $3,932,000 at a Sotheby’s auction today.
Eddie’s custom-made guitar, which went up for sale at a starting minimum price of $1,800,000, is now one of the five most expensive guitars ever sold at auction, according to Guitar World. Kurt Cobain’s Martin D-18E used in Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged set holds the record with a selling price of $6,010,000 in 2020. His Fender Mustang used in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video is second with a price of $4,550,000 while third place goes to David Gilmour’s Black Fender Stratocaster from his Pink Floyd “Comfortably Numb” solo. That guitar sold for $3,975,000 in 2019. Eddie’s “Hot For Teacher” guitar now sits close behind in the number four spot. [Guitar World did note that private sale prices are hard to confirm. As a result, they left out Jimi Hendrix’s Woodstock Stratocaster (reportedly sold for $1.3m in 1993 to Microsoft’s Paul Allen) and the infamous Peter Green/Gary Moore Les Paul, for which Kirk Hammett allegedly paid $2 million in 2014.]
According to Sotheby’s, the guitar served as one of Eddie’s primary guitars in 1983 and 1984, until he switched to a similar model made from basswood. The Kramer was gifted by Eddie Van Halen to the band’s retiring drum tech, Gregg Emerson, around 1990. Emerson subsequently gave the guitar to his nephew, who sold the guitar to Neal’s Music in Huntington Beach, California. Neal’s Music then sold the instrument to its current owner. More on the guitar at Sotheby’s website.