Phoebe Bridgers’ guitar seemed like it wasn’t going to see much more action after she smashed it against an amplifier on “Saturday Night Live” in February, but it managed to strike quite a chord among would-be collectors when GLAAD put it up for auction. The artifact went for a shocking $101,500 when bidding closed Sunday.
Bids had remained in the low five figures in the days leading up to the auction’s close, but fans of means drove the price up in a bidding frenzy Sunday.
“I know she has a loyal fan base,” says Anthony Ramos, the supervising producer of the GLAAD Media Awards, an event held Thursday night, to which the auction was tied. “Saturday night when I went to bed, it was around $18,000, and I was like, ‘That’s a great number!’ I was kind of hoping we would get to 25. Then I woke up and it was 40, then 50, then 80, and finally over 100. Obviously we were very pleasantly surprised. I’m so thankful someone wanted to support our work and wanted that guitar so badly.”
GLAAD has to protect the winning bidder’s privacy, but Ramos says, “Obviously it’s someone who’s either a huge Phoebe Bridgers fan or someone who is really into broken guitars or someone who really wants to help us accelerate our work for the LGBTQ community, and hopefully it’s someone who checks all three of those boxes.”
Adds Ramos, “The other side of it is that we’re so grateful to Phoebe for donating the guitar but also for being someone who’s a visible and out part of the community in rock music. She made a great album, and we love all she’s doing and love working with her.”
Bridgers, who identifies as bisexual, was nominated for outstanding breakthrough music artist for Thursday’s GLAAD Music Awards. (The winner was the upstart rapper Chika.)
Ramos says he’d been in contact with Bridgers’ publicist on other matters the day before the “SNL” appearance in February. “I watched the show on Saturday and saw Twitter explode about this guitar, and was like, ‘Huh. I wonder what happened with that guitar? I bet people would pay some money for this — it’s worth a shot.'” After he reached out the next morning, Bridgers quickly assented, and the guitar — or its valuable remnant — was shipped from New York back to GLAAD in L.A.
“Fortunately no one got rid of it,” Ramos says. “It’s in really cool condition,” he adds — “given that it’s obviously distressed and broken. I can see it being put on a wall as a great art piece.”
Bridgers’ smashing of the guitar at the climax of “I Know the End” — and not in anger, as the smile on her face made clear — became a fulcrum of debate for days after the “SNL” appearance, with even usual buddies like David Crosby and Jason Isbell coming down on opposite sides of the divide. “Pathetic… Guitars are for playing .. making music ….. not stupidly bashing them on a fake monitor for childish stage drama,” tweeted Crosby. When many brought up the lack of outrage from his generation when Pete Townshend and Jimi Hendrix made climactic shows out of destroying their instruments, and wondered if Crosby’s objection had an underlying sexism or ageism, he responded, “I really do NOT give a flying F if others have done it before. It’s still… STUPID.”
Tweeted Isbell, one of her many guitar-slinging supporters, in turn: “That was like an 85 dollar guitar she smashed — come on guys.”
Explained Bridgers, nonchalantly, as the firestorm grew: “I told Danelectro I was going to do it and they wished me luck and told me they’re hard to break.” Bridgers grew up busking playing Crosby, Stills & Nash songs, and has collaborated with Jackson Browne more than once and recently covered John Prine, but she is not known for harboring excessive amounts of institutional rock reverence. In response to Crosby knocking her, she tweeted back simply: “Little bitch.”