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The guitar is being put up for sale for $10,000 to $15,000 by Kestenbaum and Company, an auction house that specializes in fine Judaica.
The current owner of the guitar, Rabbi Yehoshua Book, said that he received the guitar from Carlebach, who he described as a “long treasured friend” as well as a “fellow music enthusiast and composer.”
According to the auction catalog, the Carlebach guitar is a Yamaha Taiwan model G-150A and comes with a capo, neck strap and carrying case. The guitar is described as heavily scratched by guitar picks because of Carlebach’s energetic playing style and the blue velvet lined case, adrorned with travel stickers, is reinforced heavily with silver and black duct tape.
Rabbi Book, who hails from the Modzitzer dynasty which is known for its music, said that he met Carlebach as a child in the early 1960’s and that he was gifted with the guitar in 1979 because of the close relationship he shared with Carlebach. At the time he received the guitar, Carlebach told Rabbi Book, “Without my guitar, I am bereft. I am as a guf beli neshama.”
Letters of authenticity from Rebbetzin Chanita Raz and Rabbi Itzik Eisenstadt, who was known as Carlebach’s “assistant brother,” specify that the guitar is authentic and had been given to Rabbi Book. The guitar is being sold for financial reasons.
“I am not doing this with happiness. I am very sad, but now I have money problems with my family and my special projects in my community,” said Rabbi Book. “I’m not happy to do it, believe me. If there was another way I’d do it.”
Neshama Carlebach told The Times of Israel that Rabbi Book never contacted family members about his decision to offer the guitar up to the public.
“Basically, these people claim they have my father’s guitar and they have decided to sell it,” Neshama Carlebach said. “Apparently there is a document that is witnessed and they are saying it is legit. I don’t know what I believe one way or the other, and frankly was a bit dismayed that they chose not to discuss this with the family at all.”
The guitar is being offered as part of a larger auction featuring books, manuscripts, graphic and ceremonial art and will be held at 3 PM tomorrow.