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Paul McCartney and his stolen bass come together after more than 50 years: ‘Grateful’

Paul McCartney in a blue long-sleeve shirt onstage, holding up his left hand in a fist and holding a bass guitar
Paul McCartney reunited with his 1961 H?fner guitar, which allegedly was stolen more than 50 years ago.
(Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times)
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Paul McCartney‘s signature, violin-shaped H?fner bass guitar is back in his hands, decades after it was stolen in the 1970s.

The Beatles rocker confirmed on Thursday that the instrument had been returned — with the help of the Lost Bass Project, an initiative launched by journalists Scott and Naomi Jones, and H?fner executive Nick Wass. The search began in 2023.

“The guitar has been authenticated by H?fner and Paul is incredibly grateful to all those involved,” said a statement on the singer’s website said.

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The two-and-a-half-hour SoFi Stadium concert, featuring a generous helping of Beatles songs, was McCartney’s first area show since 2019.

May 14, 2022

The Lost Bass Project announced its discovery online earlier this week, detailing the beginnings of the search and the conditions of McCartney’s guitar, in a blog post. According to the website, the instrument will need professional care to “make it playable again.” The guitar was purchased in 1961.

In several Instagram posts Friday, Lost Bass Project shared more pictures of the damages, including broken strings and cracks in the glossy wooden body.

Lost Bass Project also revealed information about the night that McCartney’s guitar — a mainstay during Beatlemania in the ’60s — was stolen. The team said it learned that the H?fner was allegedly stolen by an unnamed person in 1972 from a van in London’s Notting Hill. The post said the details of the theft matched up to the tips and information the team received from other Beatles fans and internet sleuths. Scores of people who contributed to the search are credited on the website.

Torso of a person in a gray shirt holding the body of a wooden guitar
Paul McCartney’s H?fner guitar was the subject of a months-long search by the Lost Bass Project.
(The Lost Bass Project / Nick Wass via AP)

The Joneses and Wass deduced that the guitar, after being stolen, was eventually sold to a man named Ron Guest. The guitar remained in his family for generations. Ultimately, one of Guest’s relatives contacted the rock star about returning the stolen instrument.

In December, the H?fner was reunited with McCartney. It took about two months to authenticate it, the Associated Press reported.

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“Despite many telling us that it was lost forever or destroyed, we persisted until it was back where it belonged,” Lost Bass Project said on its website. “We want to thank everyone who helped with the search, all those who sent us leads and ideas and many who just wanted to lend their support to us.”

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