There are a lot of big Pink Floyd fans in the world, but Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay might officially take the title of the biggest and richest fan of the iconic British progressive rock group.
Irsay last Thursday spent over $5 million at auction on gear owned by Pink Floyd guitarist/vocalist David Gilmour. The football mogul left Christie's New York with the charity benefit's headlining item, Gilmour's iconic black 1969 Fender Stratocaster, which he helped make the world's most expensive guitar, buying it for a record $3.975 million.
Irsay also dropped another $1,095,000 on Gilmour's prized 1969 Martin D-3 (a record for a Martin) and $175,000 on a Pink Floyd-branded flight case for the guitar. Irsay alone contributed almost a quarter of the $21.5 million total raised at the auction. The money is going to benefit the climate change charity ClientEarth.
When asked by Rolling Stone why he spent so much at the auction, Irsay said it was simple.
"I just f---ing love Pink Floyd, man, I cannot deny it," he said. "I think [Roger] Waters' lyrics and Gilmour's playing and their whole story and prominence is just so profound that I cannot say enough about my excitement for this. ...David Gilmour stands by himself [among music's greats]."
Irsay explained that he didn't expect the Black Strat, Gilmour's primary recording and touring instrument for Pink Floyd during the '70s, to sell for a record-breaking amount. But once he won the flight case, he knew he had to win the Black Strat.
"If I don't get the guitar, I'll look like a jackass..." he recalled thinking. "But I love Strats, and this is the Strat. This is the one that was the signature guitar for those incredible Floyd leads."
Irsay confirmed that he will comply with Gilmour's wishes and actually play music on the guitar. He said the Black Strat holds a special place in his collection of rock and roll artifacts, which also includes guitars that belonged to Elvis Presley, John Lennon and Prince.
"It was the big fish that didn't get away," he said. "We all remember the big fish that did, but this barely didn't. This is something, man. This was worth the price of admission."
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