1708132889 Beatles legend Paul McCartney39s stolen guitar found and returned after

Beatles legend Paul McCartney's stolen guitar found and returned after more than 50 years: 'Incredibly grateful'

Paul McCartney's original bass guitar, which the legendary musician used in the early years of The Beatles, has been found and returned after it was stolen more than five decades ago.

The 81-year-old singer-songwriter was reunited with the left-handed Höfner 500/1 violin bass after its maker and a journalist couple embarked on a search for the missing instrument in 2018, which later became a crowdsourcing campaign called The Lost Bass Project .

A statement posted on McCartney's website Wednesday confirmed that the guitar had been discovered and returned to its original owner.

“Following the launch of last year's Lost Bass project, Paul's 1961 Höfner 500/1 bass, stolen in 1972, was returned. The guitar was authenticated by Höfner and Paul is incredibly grateful to everyone involved,” the statement read.

Paul McCartney with bass guitar/Beatles in 1963

Paul McCartney has been reunited with his stolen bass guitar after more than 50 years. (Getty Images)

According to the Associated Press, the guitar was originally purchased from McCartney in 1961 for $37 and is now valued at $12.6 million.


The guitar was McCartney's primary instrument when the Beatles made their first appearances with a series of residencies in Hamburg. McCartney played the instrument on the Beatles' first two albums and it was featured on hits such as “Love Me Do,” “Twist and Shout” and “She Loves You.”

“Because I was left-handed, it looked less silly because it was symmetrical,” McCartney once said, according to the AP. “I got involved in it. And when I bought it, I fell in love with it.”

It was originally believed that the guitar was stolen during the legendary band's recording of their final album, Let It Be, in 1969.

Paul McCartney playing guitar in 1963

The bass guitar was stolen in 1972. (Mark and Colleen Hayward/Redferns)

McCartney asked Höfner to help find the missing instrument that helped spread Beatlemania throughout the universe, said Scott Jones, a journalist who teamed up with Höfner CEO Nick Wass to track it down. on Friday.

“Paul said to me, 'Hey, because you're from Höfner, couldn't you help me find my bass?'” Wass said, according to the AP. “And that started this big hunt. As I sat there and saw what the lost bass meant to Paul, I was determined to solve the mystery.”

The Lost Bass Project was originally launched in 2018, but the investigation eventually stalled. However, in 2022, Jones and his wife Naomi joined forces with Wass to bring more media attention to the search and gain the public's support.

After The Lost Bass Project relaunched last fall, the group received 600 emails in 48 hours with the “little gems that led us to where we are today,” Jones told the AP.

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Sound engineer Ian Horne, who had worked with McCartney's band Wings, contacted The Lost Bass Project and revealed that the bass had been stolen from the back of his van in London's Notting Hill in 1972.

“I knew that Paul’s original Höfner bass had been stolen and I knew what it meant to him,” Horne wrote in an email, according to The Lost Bass Project via CBS.

Paul McCartney Brazil

McCartney played the Höfner bass on the Beatles' early recordings. (Portal/Mario Anzuoni/File Photo)

“Trevor [Jones, McCartney’s other sound engineer at the time] and I did everything we could to find it, but it was gone. Eventually we had to go to Paul's house on Cavendish Avenue and tell him that the equipment had been stolen from the back of the truck. We went into the room and told Paul. He told us not to worry and we kept our jobs. He's a good man, Paul. I worked for him for six years after the bass disappeared. But I've carried the guilt my whole life.


The Lost Bass Project posted the search update on its website and received an email from a person who revealed that their father had stolen the bass. The man had no intention of stealing McCartney's instrument and panicked when he realized what he had, Jones said.

The thief, who has not been named, later sold it to Ron Guest, landlord of the Admiral Blake pub, in exchange for a few pounds and a few beers. Guest's family learned of the search and his daughter-in-law, Cathy Guest, contacted McCartney's studio.

Cathy said the instrument, which had been stored in her attic for years, looked like McCarthy's missing bass.

Paul McCartney plays the guitar

McCartney performs during the 2022 Glastonbury Festival in Glastonbury, England. (Harry Durrant/Getty Images)

The guitar was passed down from Ron Guest to his eldest son, who died in a car accident, and then to a younger son, Haydn Guest, who was married to Cathy and died in 2020.

The bass was returned to McCartney in December and authenticated about two months later.

The instrument's estimated value is based on the fact that a Gibson acoustic guitar that Kurt Cobain played on “MTV Unplugged” sold for $6 million, Jones said. But over the last half century it has had almost no value.


“The thief couldn’t sell it,” Jones said. “Obviously the Guest family never tried to sell them. It's a red alert because the minute you come forward, someone's going to say, 'That's Paul McCartney's guitar.'”

“It is perhaps the most iconic lost musical instrument of all time. Now it's back with the man who bought it all those years ago. Finally the bass is back where it belongs,” wrote The Lost Bass Project.

“We thought we would never see it again. But we have!” they added.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Ashley Hume is an entertainment writer for Fox News Digital. Story tips can be sent to [email protected] and on Twitter: @ashleyhume