Paul McCartney Reunites With Stolen Bass Guitar After 51 Years

A loyal and dedicated fanbase of The Beatles spearheaded efforts to locate the stolen bass guitar of Paul McCartney, which went missing in 1972.

Loyal fanbase group The Lost Bass Project started efforts to locate the stolen bass guitar of Paul McCartney in 2018. However, it wasn’t until May 2023 when the search began to move forward through the help of journalists Scott and Naomi Jones. A statement from the music legend’s website revealed that last week, the instrument had been returned to its rightful owner. McCartney’s guitar was a Höfner 500/1 which he purchased in 1961.

“The guitar has been authenticated by Höfner and Paul is incredibly grateful to all those involved,” McCartney’s website said. The Associated Press mentioned it took two months to confirm it was indeed McCartney’s.

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Stolen bass “powered Beatlemania”

The Lost Bass Project narrated that McCartney bought the Höfner in Hamburg. It became a backup instrument in late 1963 but was used until The Beatles’ breakup in 1969. The band’s bassist remained in ownership of the instrument until October 1972, where it suddenly vanished from an equipment van. 

They announced last month that they would take a break from searching the world for the stolen bass. This is due to the searchers who came from different walks of life and remarked their jobs and other commitments needed their attention at the time. However, they assured the public that this would not affect their purpose of finding McCartney’s iconic bass. 

The project commented that they thought they would never see it again. True to their word, the search is now over as the stolen base has finally come to light.

Paul McCartney with his Höfner 500/1
Paul McCartney with his Höfner 500/1/Photo via Instagram @thelostbassproject

Stolen bass worth $12.6 million

The Lost Bass Project told the tale of how McCartney and the bass reunited. Press coverages helped the search gain traction after which useful leads began to surface. They received 100 tip offs, suggestions, and about 600 people offering help, making the organization overwhelmed with utmost support. 

Information said the bass was stolen from the back of a three-ton van on October 10, 1972 at London’s Notting Hill area. This matched with a story the group received via email, noting that this was “the breakthrough” they needed. 

The group uncovered that the thief sold the bass to Admiral Blake landlord Ronald Guest, whose pub is located in Ladbroke Grove, London. 

“We suspected that the lost bass had probably stayed in the same family ever since it was purchased by Guest,” they mentioned.

Close-up of the stolen bass of Paul McCartney
Close-up of the stolen bass of Paul McCartney/Photo via Instagram @thelostbassproject

The group reiterated they wrote an article for The Sunday Telegraph where they “outlined the search and who was on the team.” Articles, numerous interviews, and news broadcasts led them to a resident living in Hastings, south of England. They contacted McCartney and returned the bass to them.

The Associated Press reported Guest passed the instrument on to his sons, until it landed on his son Haydn’s wife, Cathy. Her son, Ruaidhri, posted on X that he inherited the stolen bass but has returned it to the musician. 

McCartney bought the bass for $37 (£30) in 1961 according to a report by the Associated Press. However, they added the half-century missing Höfner is now estimated to be worth £10 million or $12.6 million.

The group revealed the stolen bass came with its original case and will need repairs before being playable again. 

The group thoroughly disclosed the condition of the musical instrument. The guitar pickups need new coils as they don’t work anymore, as well as its damaged bridge, which needs replacement. Some parts of the guitar have cracks. The group added its poly clear coat has big cracks in it. This indicated that the instrument was stored in an attic with significant variations in humidity and temperature.

“It can all easily be repaired by someone with experience,” the group remarked.

The Lost Bass Project expressed they were so proud to have played a major part in finding the stolen bass. They showed gratitude to those who cooperated, sent tips and clues, and people who lent their support to the group’s cause.

“Despite many telling us that it was lost forever or destroyed, we persisted until it was back where it belonged,” they said. “We did it!”

Banner photo via Instagram @thelostbassproject.

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