Auction of Garcia guitars to help fund autism facility

LOS ANGELES – Two guitars owned Grateful Dead guitarist Jerry Garcia will be up for bid in the Dec. 9 sale conducted by Bonhams & Butterfields, along with vintage and contemporary film and television props and costumes.

The guitars were consigned by Leon Day, former chauffeur to Garcia. The instruments are being sold to support the building of a facility devoted to the treatment of autism.

“I’ve been blessed and challenged to have an almost 19-year-old autistic son,” Day said. “Over the years, autism has reached epidemic proportions and my hope is to open a center for autism on the Big Island of Hawaii. I am in the process of raising money for the center and I’m hoping Jerry’s past generosity will help me do this,” said Day.

The first guitar, a Steinberger headless electric guitar, circa 1980s (estimate $45,000-$50,000) has an iridescent, circular sticker on the back that Garcia placed there, and it bears his hand-etched signature. Also included is the instrument’s original black soft-canvas carrying case plus a reprinted color image of Garcia holding this guitar.

Casio.jpg“The guitar was known as Garcia’s house or hotel practice guitar,” Day said. “It went everywhere he did. He’d used this instrument to record three songs with Ornette Coleman for the album Virgin Beauty.”

Jerry Garcia’s Casio PG-380 electric guitar, circa 1980s, $40,000-$45,000.

The second guitar is a Casio PG-380 electric guitar, circa 1980s ($40,000-$45,000). Garcia also hand-etched his signature on the back of the instrument. It comes with its Fender hard-plastic guitar case. The case displays two Grateful Dead stickers (both from 1988) as well as US Customs stickers. A letter of provenance from Day is included with both guitars.

“Garcia used the Casio from time to time during the Grateful Dead’s space sequence. I know he used it at the last Dead show on May 6, 1989, at Stanford University’s Frost Amphitheatre,” said Day.

An illustrated auction catalog for the sale may be found online at