Acoustic Guitar Used by the Legendary American Singer/Songwriter to Write and Record the Classic Hit Single Joins McLean’s Original Lyrics of
“Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)” on the Auction Block

Only U.S. Auction Exhibition of the Guitar and Other Items from Don McLean’s Collection at
Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square New York
Monday, November 7, 2022 – Friday, November 13, 2022

A Portion of Proceeds Benefit the Don McLean Foundation and “Kicking The Stigma,” The Indianapolis Colts and Irsay Family’s Mental Health Awareness Initiative


NEW YORK – (November 3, 2022) – Julien’s Auctions has announced an additional marquee item – the Martin 00-21 acoustic guitar owned and used by Don McLean to write and record his classic single “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)”– will be publicly sold for their first time at auction on day one of Icons & Idols: Rock ‘N’ Roll, the world-record-breaking auction house to the stars’ three-day event running Friday, November 11th to Sunday, November 13th live at the Hard Rock Cafe® New York and online at The storied instrument will join the previously announced highlight of Don McLean’s original lyrics of “Vincent (Starry, Starry Night)” (estimate of one million dollars) in this exclusive auction presentation featuring over 300 items from the personal collection of McLean from his homes in Garrison, New York, Camden, Maine and Palm Desert, California. A portion of the proceeds will go to the Don McLean Foundation, which contributes funds to underserved college students, homeless shelters, and food banks in the state of Maine and throughout the country and “Kicking The Stigma,” the Indianapolis Colts and the Jim Irsay family’s national initiative to raise awareness about mental health disorders and to remove the stigma too often associated with these illnesses. 

“Vincent (Starry, Starry Night),” an emotional tribute to the artist Vincent Van Gogh, and the second single off of McLean’s seminal GRAMMY-nominated album American Pie charted in the U.S. and the U.K. and ranked Billboard’s Top 100 songs for the year. McLean purchased two Martin 00-21s as a result of a musical encounter with prominent blues musician Josh White who played the same model guitar and retrofitted this one with new Schaller tuners to make it easier to tune on stage. This guitar, along with his beloved Martin D-28 and his Vega banjo, would make up his “first family of instruments” as McLean stated in the 2012 documentary about his life and career, American Troubadour. The 1969 Martin 00-21 can be seen in photographs of McLean with this musical “family,” relaxing and working in his residence in Cold Springs, NY.

As a singer-songwriter hailing from the folk revival movement, McLean has often spoken about the importance of the guitar in his creative process. During a conversation with Norm of Norman’s Rare Guitars in Southern California, he stated: “The guitar has been the way I’ve written a lot of songs, like a song like ‘And I Love You So’… And even ‘Vincent’ was really off the guitar.”

Along with “American Pie,” “Vincent” is one of McLean’s most beloved works and was written before his eight-and-a-half-minute magnum opus. McLean was inspired to write the song after reading a book about the close relationship Van Gogh had with his brother Theo and the pair’s shared mental health struggles. While Van Gogh’s mental health has been the subject of much speculation and sensationalism, McLean wanted to approach the subject from a less clinical and more humanizing perspective.

This 1969 Martin 00-21 was the primary instrument used for the conceptualization and recording of McLean’s other songs: “Til Tomorrow,” “Winterwood,” “Sister Fatima,” “The Grave” and “Empty Chairs,” the song that inspired Lori Lieberman’s “Killing Me Softly,” later a smash hit recorded by Roberta Flack and the highly successful cover version by The Fugees. In 1971, young songwriter Lieberman went out to see McLean perform at The Troubadour in Los Angeles and was immediately moved by his music. The lyrics, then, describe McLean performing the song he’d conceived of and recorded with the 1969 Martin 00-21: “I heard he sang a good song / I heard he had a style / And so I came to see him / To listen for a while / And there he was this young boy / A stranger to my eyes / Strumming my pain with his fingers / Singing my life with his words / Killing me softly with his song…”

McLean used this particular guitar exclusively on stage from 1969-1971, concluding when he gave it to a friend’s son (who retained the guitar until recently). McLean also used the 1969 Martin 00-21 for live performances of “Vincent,” including one at Columbia University in 1971. McLean’s gentle fingerstyle playing serves as the foundation for the song’s nuanced examination of Van Gog where he would often perform it with only the guitar as accompaniment. The instrument can also be seen being held and played by a homeless man as McLean looks on, a moment that was captured during a photo shoot with photographer George Whiteman who shot McLean for the iconic cover of American Pie.

Fans can also have a chance to view this guitar as well as other historic rock’n’roll artifacts at Hard Rock Cafe in Times Square New York Monday, November 7, 2022 – Friday, November 13, 2022, before the auction.

Hard Rock Cafe New York
1501 Broadway-Times Square
New York, NY 10036

Monday, November 7, 2022 – Friday, November 13, 2022
Free to the public exhibition: 11:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time daily

Live and Online Auction

Friday, November 11
Icons & Idols: Rock ‘N’ Roll: Property from the Life and Career of Don McLean
Session I: 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time
Session II: 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Saturday, November 12
Icons & Idols: Rock ‘N’ Roll: Property from the Archives of Steve Vai
Session III: 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time
Session IV: 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Sunday, November 13
Icons & Idols: Rock ‘N’ Roll
Session III: 10:00 a.m. Eastern Time
Session IV: 1:00 p.m. Eastern Time

Registration is required to bid in this online auction and can be done in person at the exhibition, or online before the sale at the Registration page to bid by phone, proxy, or in person, or online at to bid live online, or by calling (310) 836-1818. For inquiries, please email or call 310-836-1818.

There are four ways to bid in this sale:

  1. Bid through Julien’s Auctions Online Live in Real Time at
  2. Bid over the telephone through an auction house representative.
  3. Submit a bid in person at Julien’s Auctions at Hard Rock Cafe New York.
  4. Enter Absentee bids. Absentee bid forms are included in the back of each catalogue, and are also available by calling Julien’s Auctions or online at

With venues in 76 countries spanning 262 locations that include owned/licensed or managed Hotels, Casinos, Rock Shops®, and Cafes – Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognized companies. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world’s most valuable collection of music memorabilia at more than 83,000 pieces, which are displayed at its locations around the globe. In 2018, Hard Rock International was recognized as a Forbes Magazine Top Employer for Women and Land Operator of the Year at the Global Gaming Awards. In 2019, Hard Rock International was honored as one of Forbes Magazine’s America’s Best Large Employers, Forbes Magazine’s Top Employers for Women, and No. 1 in J.D. Power’s 2019 North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study among Upper Upscale Hotel Chains. Hard Rock destinations are located in the world’s greatest international gateway cities, including its two most successful flagship properties in Florida and home to the world’s first Guitar Hotel® in South Florida, where its headquarters are located. The brand is owned by HRI parent entity The Seminole Tribe of Florida. For more information on Hard Rock International visit or

Julien’s Auctions is the world record-breaking auction house to the stars. Collaborating with the famous and the exclusive, Julien’s Auctions produces high profile auctions in the film, music, sports and art markets. Julien’s Auctions has received international recognition for its unique and innovative auction events, which attract thousands of collectors, investors, fans and enthusiasts from around the world. Julien’s Auctions specializes in sales of iconic artifacts and notable collections including Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Lady Gaga, Banksy, Cher, Michael Jackson, U2, Barbra Streisand, Les Paul, Neil Young, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Hugh Hefner and many more.

In 2016, Julien’s Auctions received its second placement in the Guinness Book of World Records for selling the world’s most expensive dress ever sold at auction, The Marilyn Monroe “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress which sold for $4.8 million. Julien’s Auctions achieved placement in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2009 for the sale of Michael Jackson’s white glove, which sold for $480,000 making it the most expensive glove ever sold at auction. In 2020, Julien’s Auctions received its third Guinness Book of World Records placement for the sale of Kurt Cobain’s “MTV Unplugged” 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic-electric guitar, which sold for $6 million making it the world’s most expensive guitar ever sold at auction. In 2022, Julien’s Auctions sold the world’s second most expensive guitar ever sold at auction in the sale of Kurt Cobain’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video 1969 Fender Mustang electric guitar, which sold for $4.5 million. Based in Los Angeles, Julien’s Auctions has a global presence bringing their auctions and exhibitions to targeted destinations worldwide including London, New York, Las Vegas, Japan, and China. Live auctions are presented for bidders on-site and online via live-streaming video and mobile technology. For more information on Julien’s Auctions, go to Connect with Julien’s Auctions at or or