Höfner thief found

An article in Guitar Player about the theft of Paul McCartney’s first Höfner bass guitar claims that the thief has been found.

A world wide search for Paul McCartney’s stolen first Höfner bass guitar was launched by guitar maker Höfner a few years ago. Paul had purchased the instrument when the Beatles were playing at the Top Ten Club in Reeperbahn, Hamburg in 1961. This was their second trip to Hamburg, and their regular bass guitarist Stuart Sutcliffe was on his way out of the group. It was during this trip that the Beatles were backing singer and guitarist Tony Sheridan, resulting in their first appearance on records. Paul was of course playing his new Höfner.

After having gotten a new and better Höfner 500/1 violin bass guitar in 1963, the 1961 bass was refurbished and used as a back-up. Occasionally we could see it again, like in the “Revolution” promo film.

It has already come to light that the first assumption that the instrument was stolen during the recording of “Let It Be” in Twickenham film studios was not true. One could see the bass guitar in the 1969 promo of “The Ballad of John and Yoko” in a scene from these recordings. But in Peter Jackson’s 2021 documentary “Get Back” we also saw the instrument in the Apple Studio, where the Beatles continued recording after Twickenham. A suspect came forward and claimed he had taken the bass when all the other robberies of the Apple company were taking place, but it turns out that this was untrue.

It has turned out that Paul still owned the instrument in 1972, when a van containing Wings’ equipment and instruments was broken into while it was parked in the Notting Hill district of London. The theft was written about in the media at the time, but it turns out that the newspapers that wrote about the case, The Daily Mirror, The Times and The Evening Standard, have not digitized their editions from 1972. To find and read the news items about the theft one had to go to libraries and study microfilms of the newspapers.

Now journalist Christopher Scapelliti says in the magazine “Guitar Player” that a tip to the detectives investigating the case pointed to a specific house in Ladbroke Grove in the Notting Hill district. By studying the official address lists of registered voters in 1972, the investigators were able to find the thief, whose name has not yet been published. In the article, the journalist speculates that the bass guitar itself will also appear in the wake of this.

We expect TheLostBass.com website to be updated as soon as everything is ready.

UPDATE: And it was! The website explained that their detectives managed to discover exactly who had stolen the bass, but who will remain nameless. The thief sold it to Ronald Guest, the landlord of the Admiral Blake pub in Ladbroke Grove, London. They then tracked it down to the landlord’s relative, Rauidhri Guest, and the lost bass was found in his attic in Hastings. You can read all about this over at TheLostBass.com/

19 Responses

  1. Bob D says:

    Im sure the billionaire appreciates this

    • James Peet says:

      Billionaire or not, the principle of theft being wrong still applies. At Paul’s stage of life, these things take on a greater significance and he wants part of his youth back in his hands. There is no such thing as an “asterisk theft”, where the financial status of the person losing the item lessens the seriousness of the crime if they are wealthy.

      For me, I hope Paul is reunited with his bass very soon.

      • Kozmo says:

        Agreed! I’m sure a grateful Sir P. will reward those involved in solving this crime. That guitar is priceless to him and his family. It should be in a museum one day, a treasure for future music fans.

  2. JPMacOriginal says:

    We shall see….if “The Bass” turns up….I’m wondering exactly what Mr. McCartney will do 🤔

    • David Foyle says:

      As far as I know, as yet, Paul hasn’t acknowledged the return. My guess is he won’t make public any reward – at least here in the US, the “caretaker” was in possession of stolen goods (even if bought unknowingly), and would be required by law to return it. Publicly rewarding theft isn’t a good plan. But, yes, I’d bet he’ll give a reward, but not acknowledge doing so.

  3. Rickenbacker620 says:

    When can that bass be seen during the Ballad of J&Y recording session in the promo film?

  4. Esthersaylor128 says:

    Love to know did play get his guitar back and if this person went to jail thank you 💜✌

  5. Bill says:

    Are we to assume that the « Cavern » bass appearing in the background in the Now and Then video is merely a replica?

    • admin says:

      Thanks for alerting us. Well, finding it seemed to be imminent as they had found out who stole it (according to Christopher Scappeliti in the Guitar Player magazine). When we checked, the website that was set up by Höfner for the search was “taking a break” but is back up now. The December 2023 update was very positive and confirmed much of what Mr Scappeliti wrote in his article. And yet, the tweet might be coming from just an attention seeker. We’ll wait for the official word.

  6. Kozmo says:

    ABC network news (USA) broadcast a short segment about this recovery on its evening broadcast today.

  7. Kozmo says:

    So it wasn’t Magic Alex after all!

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