By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES, May 18 (Reuters) - A custom-made electric guitar played by the late John Lennon and George Harrison of the Beatles sold at a New York auction on Saturday for $408,000, said officials with the company behind the event.
The semi-hollow-body guitar, manufactured by the VOX company, was sold to an unidentified U.S. buyer at the "Music Icons" event organized by Beverly Hills, California-based Julien's Auctions and held at the Hard Rock Cafe in Manhattan.
Julien's said previously it expected the guitar, which was the centerpiece of Saturday's sale, to fetch between $200,000 and $300,000.
Harrison played the instrument, distinguished by two symmetrical flared shoulders on the upper body, while practicing "I Am The Walrus," and Lennon used it in a video session for the song "Hello, Goodbye," according to a statement from Julien's Auctions.
Both songs were on the Beatles' 1967 album "Magical Mystery Tour."
The VOX guitar was a prototype instrument custom-built for Lennon in 1966, said Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien's. Lennon gave the VOX guitar as a gift in 1967 to Yanni "Magic Alex" Mardas, who was the electronics engineer for the band's Apple Records label, the auction house said.
The instrument, displayed in recent weeks at a museum in Ireland before the sale, was sold a few years ago by Christie's Auction House for a little over $100,000. Nolan said the latest buyer, who sent a representative to Saturday's auction to bid on his behalf, wished to remain anonymous.
Lennon was shot to death in New York in 1980 by a deranged fan, and Harrison died of lung cancer in Los Angeles in 2001. The surviving members of the Beatles are Paul McCartney and Ringo Starr. (Reporting and writing by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Steve Gorman and Peter Cooney)