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Living Like Jim Irsay

Jim Irsay

If only we could all be like rock n roll Jim Irsay. Your dad gives you a pro football team, the Colts. Plus a stadium and the family fortune. But the best professional exhibition of crazed greed is your collection of 90 or 175 famous guitars, depending on who is consulted, and the regular bootlicking that comes your way for it.

The billionaire just spent over half a million bucks, $530,000, for one of John Lennon’s old guitars.

“The John Lennon guitar used on ‘Paperback Writer’ and other sessions with the Beatles is a significant piece of history,” Irsay told Rolling Stone magazine for its website. “John Lennon’s guitars are as special as it gets. Instruments like this rarely become available, so anything John Lennon used is some of the most important historical musical archives that exist on the planet.”

And who better to own the “historical musical archive(s)” of a Beatle, whatever that actually means in this context, than one of America’s rich men?

It is a great country, indeed. If 48 million people are on food stamps, it’s because they’ve made bad personal choices along the way.

But if you take personal responsibility in life, bulling through the drink driving fusses, there’s no telling how high you might climb, like Jim, who spent $275,000 for “Black Beauty,” Les Paul’s most famous guitar, just a month ago.

And Irsay’s a job creator. He can’t do this heavy-lifting all by himself. For that, Irsay has Chris McKinney, a personal guitar curator, for getting in touch with the owner’s of these fine things, handling the official hand-raising at auction and, figuratively, jingling the money bag. It probably makes decent trickle down, maybe not $530,000/year, but OK for living in Indianapolis.

The negotiations for Lennon’s old guitar were complicated, it was said. The owner was a crusty old cob who knew the great value of his one prized possession. It took 15 back-and-forth exchanges, like the highest-stakes ping-pong match, to arrive at the final figure.

So while Jim Irsay is a big spender, he’s nobody’s fool. All rock icon guitars are not created the same. Les Paul’s “Black Beauty” may have been worth more than a quarter million but Jerry Garcia’s Tiger was worth $970,000. (According to Forbes; RS called $850,00. The 120k, a neither here nor there figure, is the commission fee at auction.)

Heck, Jim even let a fan of the Greatful Dead come and play Tiger once! What a guy!

Jim even plays these guitars, insists his curator. He is unafraid to put some scratches on them.


  1. Chris on October 6, 2016 at 11:55 pm

    man, I WISH it had a trickle down income close to 530K. I don’t make anymore than I did when I was working for Gibson Guitars… but it keeps me off the road. and it is fun being able to help be a part of building a museum level guitar collection. I know it’s crazy. but people spend a lot of money on a lot of odd things. I’ve seen some weird stuff at auctions…

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