The estate of Jimi Hendrix is suing an Arizona guitar shop owner for the return of a guitar once owned by the rocker, claiming it was stolen by an erstwhile member of the group Earth, Wind & Fire. When Hendrix died in 1970 his effects – including the disputed guitar, which may or may not have been played b Jimi – went to his father, James “Al” Hendrix, who formed Experience Hendrix in 1995 and died seven years later, leaving the guitarist’s adopted sister Janie in control of the estimated $80m estate.
According to a court filing, Experience Hendrix, the company responsible for Hendrix’s estate, alleges that Harvey Moltz, the owner of Rainbow Guitars in Tucson, is not the rightful owner of the Acoustic Black Widow guitar as the Black Widow was in fact stolen by Sheldon Reynolds, a sometime singer and guitarist for Earth, Wind & Fire, who is also a former member of The Commodores – and a former husband of Janie.
According to the Arizona Daily Star, Mr Moltz says he bought the instrument for $80,000 (£52,000) in June 2014 from Brian Patterson, who in turn acquired the instrument from Sheldon Reynolds; Moltz says that he was shown a letter prior to purchasing the guitar that said Janie had given the instrument to Reynolds as a gift during their marriage.
The family deny this, saying the first they knew of the guitar leaving their possession was when an LA auction house, through which Patterson was trying to sell it, called to check its authenticity. “The guitar is priceless to our family”, Janie Hendrix told the newspaper. “It is one of the few guitars that came home after Jimi passed away. We just want our guitar returned safely and back where it belongs”.
Moltz is now facing a lawsuit demanding the return of the guitar as well as damages of up to $750,000, but says that he “purchased the guitar in good faith from a private seller, without knowledge of competing claims of ownership”. His lawyer Todd Jackson said Moltz “has no interest in acquiring or retaining stolen property” and it appears he has agreed not to sell the guitar and to allow it to be inspected as necessary while the matter is resolved.