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Sex Pistols Relic: Steve Jones’ 1974 Les Paul Custom Makes History at Auction

Sex Pistols Relic: Steve Jones' 1974 Les Paul Custom Makes History at Auction
Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones' beat-up 1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom sells for a record $390,000 at auction

A battered and bruised piece of rock and roll history has fetched a staggering price at auction. A 1974 Gibson Les Paul Custom, once wielded by both Sex Pistols guitarist Steve Jones and New York Dolls’ Sylvain Sylvain, sold for a whopping $390,000, far surpassing its estimated range of $100,000 to $200,000.

Sex Pistols Relic

This heavily worn guitar boasts a past as legendary as its worn finish. Originally owned by Sylvain, the Les Paul’s journey took a turn when it reportedly landed in the hands of Malcolm McLaren, manager of both the New York Dolls and later the Sex Pistols. According to rumors, McLaren took the guitar as compensation for his management services with the Dolls.

“Malcolm was managing the Dolls for a while,” Jones confirmed in a 1996 interview with Guitar World. “And when he finished managing them, he brought this guitar back to England with him. I guess they owed him money or something and gave it to him as payment. It had a Bigsby bar, but I took it off because the thing kept going out of tune.”

Steve Jones Les Paul Custom
Steve Jones Les Paul Custom

Steve Jones

McLaren then gifted the well-traveled Les Paul to Jones, who made it his weapon of choice during the Sex Pistols’ brief but impactful career.

The instrument’s battered character serves as a testament to its punk rock pedigree. Years of relentless playing left their mark, stripping away the once-pristine Arctic White finish to reveal a worn yellow hue, further accentuated by cigarette smoke and the natural aging process.

Adding to its unique story are the instrument’s cracks, repairs, and even faint “tan lines” where 1940s pinup girl decals once resided. These imperfections are a badge of honor, a physical record of the guitar’s life on the road, witnessing countless gigs and contributing to the raw, powerful sound that became synonymous with the Sex Pistols.

Steve Jones Les Paul Custom
Once Arctic White 1974 Gibsonn Les Paul Custom

1974 Les Paul Custom

Beyond the cosmetic wear and tear, the Les Paul boasts a classic construction. The core features a solid mahogany body with a maple top, providing a foundation for rich sustain and tonal clarity.

A comfortable 24.75″ scale length mahogany neck offers smooth playability, while a 22-fret ebony fretboard with mother-of-pearl block inlays adds a touch of elegance. The broken headstock, a testament to the guitar’s eventful life, is inlaid with a mother-of-pearl Gibson logo and equipped with gold Grover tuners.


Julien’s Auctions, the facilitators of this historic sale, meticulously authenticated the guitar, solidifying its status as a genuine piece of rock and roll royalty. This astronomical sale price speaks volumes not only about the enduring influence of the Sex Pistols but also about the value placed on instruments that legends have wielded and become synonymous with genre-defining music.

Owning a piece of music history like this Les Paul isn’t just about acquiring a guitar; it’s about acquiring a tangible piece of the rebellion and raw energy that punk rock embodied. This battered instrument is a survivor, a time capsule that carries the legacy of two iconic bands and the legendary guitarist who made it sing.

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