Prince's DX7 synthesizer, heard on 'Purple Rain,' goes to auction

When one thinks of priceless artifacts, names like Leonardo Da Vinci, Isabella Stewart Gardner, and even Indiana Jones may come to mind, but there is another avenue of value where names are often overlooked: music history memorabilia. The true value of these items is hard to pin down. For some, and perhaps even for many, they are just equipment, but some of these pieces of equipment were used by artists who changed music as we know it, like Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, seven time Grammy award winner, multi-instrumentalist pioneer in the combination and popularization of R&B, funk, and soul, with a whole discography squared in electronic music and new wave, Prince.

A Yamaha DX7 synthesizer once owned by Prince and previously used to record parts of his 1983 LP, Purple Rain, was originally purchased by a night receptionist turned personal recording engineer, Shane T Keller, who worked directly with Prince at Paisley Park Studios. At the time, complications with Warner prompted Prince to sell equipment to raise money to fund The Gold Tour in Japan, Keller said. This time around, Keller is flipping the synthesizer.

According to RR Auction’s listing, the item is a “magnificent museum-quality piece of equipment,” and notably, the only synthesizer Prince ever personally owned. The synth was taken on tour and banged up a little before its original sale, and still has the late artist’s handwritten notes scrawled above its keys. Considering that the piano that John Lennon used to write “Imagine” had cigarette burns and nevertheless sold for $2.1 million in 2000, it will be interesting to see just what the synthesizer sells for.

One could buy a DX7 for around $1000 right now, but this piece of music history isn’t just any old DX7 synthesizer and is consequently expected to snag at least $25,000. The action is being run by RR Auction as part of its Marvels of Modern Music sale.

Featured image: Allen Beaulieu