Light Wave


Paul McCartney reunited with £10 million bass guitar missing for over 50 years

By Jake Beardslee · February 16, 2024

In brief…

  • Paul McCartney's 1961 Höfner bass, used on early Beatles hits, was stolen in 1969 and now recovered after 50+ years.
  • A team of journalists and Höfner traced leads to find the missing £10 million instrument.
  • The bass passed through various hands before ending up with a pub landlord's family.
  • The landlord's relatives recently realized they had McCartney's iconic bass guitar.
  • McCartney thanked those who helped reunite him with the historic instrument.
After over 50 years missing, Paul McCartney's signature Höfner bass guitar from the early Beatles era has been reunited with its original owner thanks to a dedicated search effort.  Fronteira/Wikimedia

After over 50 years missing, Paul McCartney has been reunited with his original 1961 Höfner violin bass guitar that helped launch Beatlemania. The instrument, estimated to be worth £10 million ($12.6 million), was used by McCartney on early Beatles hits like “Love Me Do” and “She Loves You” before it disappeared around the time the band recorded their final album “Let It Be” in 1969.

According to journalist Scott Jones, McCartney had asked Höfner to help find the bass, saying “Hey, because you’re from Höfner, couldn’t you help find my bass?” This request sparked Höfner executive Nick Wass to lead “the great hunt” for the missing instrument. After tips led to dead ends, Jones and his journalist wife Naomi joined the search after seeing McCartney play at Glastonbury 2022, noticing his signature bass. Their reporting led to key breakthroughs, including testimony from sound engineer Ian Horne that the bass was stolen from his van in 1972. Further revelations uncovered that the thief wasn’t targeting McCartney but panicked upon realizing the instrument’s owner, later selling it to a pub landlord named Ron Guest.

Guest’s family recently discovered the bass in their attic. As Jones said, “The thief couldn’t sell it. Clearly, the Guest family never tried to sell it. It’s a red alert because the minute you come forward someone’s going to go, ‘That’s Paul McCartney’s guitar.’” McCartney expressed gratitude to all involved in recovering a piece of music history.