Ian Curtis’ ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ guitar is heading to auction this month

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Ian Curtis’ ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ guitar is heading to auction this month

While Curtis owned the Vox for a number of years and often used it for live performances with Joy Division, its most famous appearance came via the music video for the band’s legendary track ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’, with Curtis’ subsequent passing helping to write it into history as one of the most iconic instruments of the post-punk era. 


After Curtis’ death, the guitar was inherited by his bandmate Bernard Sumner, who used it sparingly with New Order before lending it to Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr and finally passing it onto Curtis’ daughter Natalie on her 18th birthday. 



The guitar itseld is a UK-made variant from 1967, and features a smattering of rotary controls and tone buttons to control an array of inbuilt effects – a common trope for Vox instruments from this time. It also comes with a  new 40th anniversary 12″ copy of ‘Love Will Tear Us Apart’ and a deluxe plush hardcase, as well as a letter of provenance from Ian’s daughter Natalie, describing the sentimentality of the guitar and her relationship with the iconic Vox. 


‘The guitar came to me at a time in my life when I was keen to learn more about my late father. I’m not at all musical, yet it is fascinating to see my father’s guitar, I mean, it’s such personal thing. Since I’m a visual person, the Phantom is especially interesting to me, as the design is rather unusual. I grew up around and have worked with musicians, and although I’ve seen a lot of guitars, I’ve never seen anything like this,’ the letter reads.


‘From everything I’ve been told about my father, he was very obsessed with how things looked, and so to me the Phantom makes sense and very much feels like Ian Curtis’s guitar. It’s obviously super cool, regardless of its previous owner, and it sounds great, and even though I wouldn’t know what the hell to do with them, the geek in me loves all the built-in effects. If I had any kind of aptitude, it’s the sort of guitar I’d want for myself! As I didn’t know my father, it’s quite special to gain this further insight and to discover that our tastes align’.


If you’re keen to take a punt on the auction, bidding kicks off via Bonhams on Thursday October 13. It’s expected to fetch a sum of AUD $110,000 – 140,000, but given the historic status of this instrument, it wouldn’t surprise us if it went for a bit more than that – we’ll be sure to keep an eye on the digits when bidding goes live in a fortnight. 



Check out all the details of the upcoming auction over at Bonhams today.