Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay loves Pink Floyd. Like, really loves Pink Floyd. Last week, Irsay dropped a cool $3.975 million on David Gilmour’s Black Strat guitar at Gilmour’s charity guitar auction at Christie’s New York. The Black Strat is the most expensive guitar ever sold at an auction. Gilmour played the guitar on some of the band’s biggest works in the ‘70s.
But Irsay didn’t stop there. He also spent $175,000 on the Pink Floyd–branded flight case and another $1,095,000 for the 1969 Martin D-35, which Gilmour used to record “Wish You Were Here.” His overall contribution accounts for about 25 percent of the $21.5 million raised at the auction. The money is going toward the climate change charity ClientEarth.
Rolling Stone asked Irsay what we were all thinking: Why? “I just fucking love Pink Floyd, man, I cannot deny it,” he tells Rolling Stone. “I think [Roger] Waters’ lyrics and Gilmour’s playing and their whole story and prominence is just so profound that I cannot say enough about my excitement for this. … David Gilmour stands by himself.”
Once he put a bid on the flight case, he figured, “If I don’t get the guitar, I’ll look like a jackass…But I love Strats, and this is the Strat. This is the one that was the signature guitar for those incredible Floyd leads.”
“I didn’t think it was gonna break all the records and go where it went,” he says. “It’s a good thing, of course, that the market is trending upward, but I was just taken by surprise.”
The auction lasted eight hours and had bidders from 66 countries. According to Rolling Stone, the bidding for the Black Strat escalated so quickly that Irsay almost abandoned it. “Bidding is an intuitive thing,” he says. “There are so many things that go into that zen mode, and, as they say in Caddyshack, you have to become the ball.”
“I’m definitely going to be getting some notes out of it, man,” he says of the Strat. “We’re gonna have to do something to get the Black Strat to scream a little more before it’s all said and done, but it really holds a special place in the collection.”
Irsay has been acquiring guitars and rock & roll artifacts for a while now. His collection includes guitars that belonged to Elvis Presley, John Lennon, and Prince. He hopes to play the Strat and display it, along with some of his other artifacts, in a museum.
“It was the big fish that didn’t get away,” he says. “We all remember the big fish that did, but this barely didn’t. This is something, man. This was worth the price of admission.” Congrats on the Strat, Jim!