Looking for a pivotal piece of musical history? Midtown’s Hard Rock Cafe is hosting the auction of American Pie singer-songwriter Don McLean’s property, including the acoustic guitar the artist used to record his famous song Vincent (Starry, Starry Night) — and you can check out the memorabilia for free this week steps away from Hell’s Kitchen in Times Square.

Don McLean, now 77, is auctioning memorabilia from his career, including from his breakthrough album American Pie. Photo: Courtesy of Julien’s Auctions

Featuring over 300 items from 77-year old McLean’s personal collection, the exhibit will be on free public display Monday November 7 at the Hard Rock Cafe (W43rd Street and Broadway) through the live auction that begins Friday November 11 and runs through November 13.

A portion of the proceeds from the sale 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, as well as Kicking The Stigma, a national initiative to raise awareness about and remove the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. 

It’s the pages of McLean’s lyrics to Vincent that are expected to garner the biggest bidding war, with Reuters reporting the papers as “the star item” in the collection, valued at over a million dollars. Music fans can also view everything from his first-ever instrument (a ukulele gifted to him for Christmas in 1955), signed cowboy boots and hats, dress shirts, Rolex watches, rings and sunglasses worn by the folk revival singer, to the 1969 Martin 00-21 acoustic guitar used by McLean to compose and record the song. It has a reserve price of $200,000 and the auctioneers estimate it could go for as much as $400,000.

A guitar from the collection of the singer-songwriter Don McLean
The guitar on which McLean composed Vincent is in the auction and expected to fetch as much as $400,000. Photo: Courtesy of Julien’s Auctions

McLean, who got his musical start performing at New York clubs such as Gaslight Cafe and the still-standing The Bitter End, used the guitar to write and record his second, breakthrough album American Pie, that includes the tracks Vincent, Winterwood, Sister Fatima and Empty Chairs — the song that would inspire Lori Lieberman to write the Roberta Flack.smash-hit Killing Me Softly.  

“I decided to really let a lot of stuff go,” McLean told Reuters. The sale is being run by auction house Julien’s. Those who can’t make it in person over the weekend to place their bid will be able to make an offer in real time through the site’s online portal, via a telephone representative, or by entering an absentee bid. 

McLean continues to tour. Next year he will visit Australia and New Zealand for 24 concerts, many in smaller towns and cities, to mark the 50th anniversary of American Pie. Before then he will be inducted into the Musicians’ Hall of Fame in Nashville on November 22, a reminder of his place in the musical pantheon.

And if the American Pie singer’s sale has sparked a hunger for more music memorabilia, you’re in luck —  Julien’s regularly hosts Icons & Idols: Rock N’ Roll , a wide-ranging auction of over 1,000 artifacts from musical greats, including The Beatles, U2, Guns N’ Roses, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Lady Gaga, Madonna, Led Zeppelin, Elvis Presley, Trent Reznor, the Rolling Stones, Eddie Van Halen, AC/DC, Quiet Riot, Queen, Kurt Cobain, Bob Marley, George Michael and more. Sounds like a good time to drive your Chevy to the (Hard Rock) levee for a chance to see more once-in-a-lifetime musical artifacts!

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