Those who may have searched Bonham’s auction website in the days following November 29 for news about “sale 19037, lot 373W” found a cryptic message posted in red: “This lot has been withdrawn.” Lot 373W consisted of a rare amplifier, a Vox UL730, made all the more rare by the discovery that it was said to have belonged to George Harrison.
“If this is the actual Vox UL730 used by George Harrison on sessions for Revolver and Sgt. Pepper,” says Greg Dorsett, a San Diego–based rock memorabilia dealer, “this would have to be one of the most coveted and most valuable amplifiers in existence.”
Dorsett, an ex-roadie, founded the San Diego–based Rock Stars Guitars in 1996 with record producer and Hendrix afficionado David Brewis. Rock Stars Guitars is binational — Brewis lives in the U.K., while Dorsett resides in the San Carlos area. The two deal in collectible guitars, amps, and tour gear, and they have a private reserve of their own.
In their collection is Harrison’s 1964 Gibson SG Standard, a guitar used in both the “Paperback Writer” and “Rain” videos; it is likely that Harrison played that guitar through the UL730 amp that was to be auctioned — if that was his amp. But the key to authentication of ownership of any equipment, Dorsett says, lies in the provenance.
“It will be very interesting to see what happens with this amp,” Dorsett said upon hearing of the amp discovery. But for many who collect such musical rarities, the actions of the mystery vendor raise more questions than answers.