Eddie Van Halen’s Iconic “Hot For Teacher” Guitar Sells for Almost $4 Million at Sotheby’s Auction

Eddie Van Halen's iconic guitar from "Hot For Teacher" video sold for over $3.9 million at auction to an unnamed buyer. The custom-made guitar was one of Van Halen's main guitars and has a unique, unvarnished body with a black and white stripe design. The sale highlights the enduring legacy of Eddie Van Halen, who passed away in October 2020.

The iconic red, white, and black Kramer guitar played by the late Eddie Van Halen in the band’s classic 1984 “Hot For Teacher” music video has been sold at auction for a staggering $3.932 million. The custom-made guitar, which surpassed its pre-auction estimate of $2 to 3 million, was sold to an unnamed buyer. Sotheby’s set the minimum bid for the lot, which included the “straight jacket and white gloves” worn by Van Halen in the video, at $1.8 million.

The guitar, described in Sotheby’s listing as “one of the most iconic guitars of the MTV era,” was custom-made by Paul “Unk” Unkert of Kramer Guitars, and has a poplar double-cut “Strat” style body, volume control, and a Floyd Rose bridge with whammy bar. The guitar has a unique, unvarnished body and headstock spray-painted with Van Halen’s characteristic black and white abstract stripe design on a red ground.

According to the listing, the guitar was one of Van Halen’s main guitars throughout 1983 and 1984, and he used it up until around 1990, when he gave it as a parting gift to his close friend and retiring Van Halen drum tech, Gregg Emerson. In 1998, Emerson gave the guitar to his nephew Joshua Box, who later sold it to Neals Music in Huntington Beach, California. The guitar was then sold to its previous owner.

The lot also included the guitar’s original case with tour and Warner Brothers tags, and a signed photograph of Van Halen, who wrote, “Is this your guitar or mine.” The guitar’s history was documented in a letter from its maker, Unkert, who described the guitar’s construction in detail.

The sale of the guitar marks a significant milestone in music history and highlights the enduring legacy of Eddie Van Halen, who died in October 2020 at the age of 65 after a long battle with cancer. His influence on rock music and guitar playing will continue to inspire generations to come.