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Jerry Garcia’s Iconic “Wolf” Guitar Sold for Almost $2 Million Last Night

Rich Deadheads gathered for an auction at New York City’s Brooklyn Bowl last night for a chance to purchase Jerry Garcia’s “Wolf” guitar, the custom-built instrument he played on several of the Grateful Dead’s prime-era 1970s tours. The Wolf–so named for a cartoonish sticker affixed just behind the bridge, later added as a permanent inlay–went to an unnamed bidder for $1.9 million, with proceeds going to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Associated Press reports. The seller was Daniel Pritzker, a Deadhead philanthropist who purchased the instrument to $790,000 in 2002.

“I’ve been a fan of The Dead since I was a kid, and playing this iconic guitar over the past 15 years has been a privilege,” Pritzker told the AP. “But the time is right for Wolf to do some good.”

During his life, Garcia expressed active disinterest in creating a legacy that would outlast him after his death, preferring instead the spontaneous improv he performed onstage every night, which, theoretically at least, existed only while he and the band were playing it. Of course, that didn’t exactly pan out: thanks to the network of tapers who bootlegged nearly every show they played, the Dead ended up with one of the most formidable recorded bodies of work in music history. Still, it’s funny to see the belongings of a guy who frequently gave away his possessions and built a worldview out of living in the moment treated as prized relics for people wealthy enough to drop seven figures on a conversation piece. But at least it’s going to a good cause.

Read our review of Long Strange Trip, the new Grateful Dead documentary.