‘Incredibly Grateful’: Family Returns Paul McCartney’s Stolen Guitar 51 Years Later

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Leena Nasir Entertainment Reporter
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A family in Sussex reunited Sir Paul McCartney with a Höfner bass guitar that was stolen from him in 1972.

McCartney had purchased the instrument in 1961 and used the guitar on Beatles hits “Love Me Do” and “She Loves You.” He had his guitar returned in December, a full 51 years after it was taken from the back of a van in London, according to BBC. The family said they located the guitar in their attic after a search project called the Lost Bass issued an appeal for the guitar’s return.

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The search was launched after McCartney urged Höfner to locate the stolen instrument.

“Following the launch of last year’s Lost Bass project, Paul’s 1961 Höfner 500/1 bass guitar, which was stolen in 1972, has been returned,” McCartney’s spokesperson said in a statement issued to BBC. “The guitar has been authenticated by Höfner and Paul is incredibly grateful to all those involved.”

The team behind the Lost Bass project said they had dubbed the case as “the greatest mystery in the history of rock and roll” and were thrilled to see the case come to a close with such a happy ending.

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Journalist Scott Jones and his wife (who is also a journalist) Naomi joined the search headed by Höfner bass expert, Nick Wass. “There were no leads, no evidence really where it might be,” Scott said, according to BBC.

“To have found it quite quickly is amazing and we’ve heard how thrilled Paul McCartney is to have it back.”

“That’s just the icing on the cake to know that bloke we all love is smiling tonight because his old guitar is back.”

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The guitar was located in September but was not retuned to McCartney until three months after as experts worked diligently to confirm the authenticity of the instrument.

The bass guitar was still in its original case but is said to require some repairs to make it playable again.

The investigation into the missing guitar uncovered that the stolen instrument was sold to the landlord of a local London pub before it was transported to the attic in Sussex.

“People wished McCartney well and wanted to help, because of that we had all these people come forward,” Naomi said.

“The search wasn’t about attributing blame. We were saying to people you can speak to us on an anonymous basis,” she said, according to BBC. (RELATED: The Beatles Release One Last New Song, ‘Now And Then’)

The legendary star purchased the guitar for £30 in 1961. The current value has not yet been determined, but the Lost Bass team believes it will be worth more than the most expensive guitar ever sold — the one belonging to Kurt Cobain, which sold for $6 million at a 2020 auction.