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Prince’s teal Cloud guitar sells for astonishing $700,000 at auction


by Adrian Williams

November 06, 2017

A teal model of Prince's iconic Cloud guitar has sold at auction for ten times the expected price. At a Saturday auction held by Julien's, an anonymous buyer paid $700,000 for the instrument, which had been estimated to have a value of just $70,000. The price blew away the $137,500 paid just last year for a yellow Cloud guitar.

The very first Cloud guitar was built for Prince by Minneapolis luthier Dave Rusan in 1983. Prince requested a unusual design for the guitar, taking reference from a bass he once bought for his early friend and bandmate André Cymone. The instrument was immortalized in Purple Rain, where Prince's character receives the instrument from Apollonia and subsequently plays it onstage at First Avenue.

Since then, the uniquely recognizable solid-body guitars have been a cornerstone of Prince's studio work and stage presence. After making the original Cloud guitar for the Purple Rain film, Rusan built, repaired, and modified many more guitars for Prince. The teal guitar, which he played in the late '80s and early '90s, was from a series manufactured by Andy Beech.

In 1994, Prince donated the teal Cloud guitar to an auction to benefit Los Angeles Earthquake Relief. The guitar was from a second round of guitars Rusan built for Prince. The guitar's back features an affixed label that reads "Property of PRN Music Corp" with a phone number and barcode. Included for additional authentication was a printout featuring barcodes and basic information of all of the guitars in its series.

The auction also featured memorabilia from stars including Michael Jackson (rhinestone glove, $102,000) and Kurt Cobain (MTV Video Music Award, $62,500). If you want a Cloud of your own, you can pick up an authorized replica direct from Paisley Park for $1,750. That's a lot less than $700,000, but the touch of Prince is priceless. Right?

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This activity is made possible in part by the Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts & Cultural Heritage Fund.