OK, well maybe you couldn’t have. I sure couldn’t have.
But the Blue Angel—one of four custom-designed Cloud guitars that Prince played in the ’80s—did bring $563,000 on the auction block on Saturday. So provided you had the cash, you could’ve stood in the back of the room, waited for the auctioneer to say “going twice,” and coolly intoned “Five hundred, sixty-three thousand, and… one dollars,” eliciting gasps from the well-dressed clientele and frustrating your rivals.
At least I assume that’s how auctions work. My only exposure to them is through Uncut Gems and miscellaneous sitcom episodes. I’m still kind of surprised they’re actual events that occur and not just plot devices.
Of the four original distinctive Cloud guitars Prince had custom-made in the ’80s, the Blue Angel is perhaps the most prized. He played it prominently on the Purple Rain tour, and it reappeared on subsequent tours and surfaced repeatedly during TV performances. According to the auction house, the Blue Angel had been held since the ’90s by a private owner who received the instrument as a gift from Prince.
As for the other other three original Clouds: one is displayed at the Smithsonian, another was auctioned several years ago, and a fourth is floating around out there someplace, no one quite knows where.
If you’d like to play a Cloud of your own, David Rusan, the luthier who built three of Prince's original Clouds, continues to manufacture the guitar he helped design despite legal noise from the Prince estate.
The Prince bidder got off relatively cheap. Also on Saturday, the acoustic guitar Kurt Cobain played during Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged concert brought in $6 million. I suppose I should have some kind of biting, class-conscious joke to follow that up with, but sorry, I'm tapped out. Can we just start taxing rich people again?