Ian Curtis’ “Love Will Tear Us Apart” Guitar Sells for $210,000

The Vox Phantom also previously belonged to Bernard Sumner and Johnny Marr

Ian Curtis’ "Love Will Tear Us Apart" Guitar Sells
Joy Division – Ian Curtis’ Vox Phantom Guitar

    An iconic piece of Joy Division history has found a new home. On Tuesday, Ian Curtis’ signature Vox Phantom guitar was auctioned off by Bonhams Entertainment Memorabilia Sale for a staggering £162,562 (or $211,513).

    The guitar most famously appeared in Joy Division’s “Love Will Tear Us Apart” video. However, it also toured with the late frontman during the band’s 1980 European tour and was used on the recording of Closer track “Heart and Soul”.

    Curiously enough, the Vox Phantom has quite a history that extends well beyond Curtis. Following his untimely death, the guitar passed on to bandmate Bernard Sumner, who eventually gave it to his Electronic colleague Johnny Marr.


    The buck doesn’t stop there. Fifteen years later, Marr later returned the guitar back to Sumner, who finally left it with Curtis’ daughter, Natalie. It had remained in her possession until she put it up for auction with Bonhams.

    Natalie Curtis offered the following statement on the sale:

    “The guitar came to me at a time in my life when I was keen to learn more about my late father. I’m not at all musical, yet it is fascinating to see my father’s guitar, I mean, it’s such a personal thing. Since I’m a visual person, the Phantom is especially interesting to me, as the design is rather unusual. I grew up around and have worked with musicians, and although I’ve seen a lot of guitars, I’ve never seen anything like this. From everything I’ve been told about my father, he was very obsessed with how things looked, and so to me the Phantom makes sense as it very much feels like Ian Curtis’s guitar. It’s obviously super cool, regardless of its previous owner, and it sounds great, and even though I wouldn’t know what the hell to do with them, the geek in me loves all the built-in effects. If I had any kind of aptitude, it’s the sort of guitar I’d want for myself! As I didn’t know my father, it’s quite special to gain this further insight and to discover that our tastes align.”

    Here’s hoping the new owner doesn’t just leave it on a wall somewhere to collect dust, but actually uses it to play music. Who knows, maybe it’ll motive ’em to write another timeless, world renown anthem. Or maybe they just cover it.


    Revisit the video for “Love Will Tear Us Apart” below.