Jim Irsay, the billionaire owner of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, is treating Las Vegas to a look at his massive pop-culture memorabilia collection, as well as a rock concert featuring Stephen Stills and members of ZZ Top and R.E.M.
The event takes place from 6–11 p.m. on March 4 at the Downtown Las Vegas Events Center, and it’s all free, though tickets are required. A press release from Irsay claims they’re going fast.
Front and center in Irsay’s exhibit is a guitar collection described last year by Guitar Magazine as “the greatest guitars on Earth.” It includes:
- The Fender Stratocaster Bob Dylan played when he “went electric” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival in 1965, for which Irsay paid $965K in 2013
- The 1964 Gibson SG played by George Harrison during the recording of the Beatles’ Revolver album, for which Irsay paid $567K in 2004
- The 1939 Martin acoustic played by Eric Clapton during his 1992 MTV Unplugged special, for which Irsay paid $791,500 in 2004, and
- The Fender Mustang Kurt Cobain played during Nirvana’s 1991 video for Smells Like Teen Spirit, for which Irsay paid $4.5 million last May.
The collection also includes handwritten lyrics, signed photos, and other memorabilia from the aforementioned artists and other icons of modern music history, including Prince, Elton John, Jimi Hendrix, and Pete Townshend.
“I began this collection to preserve and share historic artifacts with others in hopes of telling stories of our shared past and culture and inspiring people to dream big and strive for great things in life,” Irsay said in his press release. “I am only a steward of this collection, so it’s my job to share it with as many people as I can.”
‘On the Road’ is On the Road
If rock music isn’t your trip, the collection also includes author/beat poet Jack Kerouac’s original 119-foot scroll for his 1957 novel “On the Road,” for which Irsay paid $2.43 million in 2001. It also includes a baseball bat used in a 1953 game by Jackie Robinson, Sylvester Stallone’s original script for his Oscar-winning film, Rocky, and Muhammad Ali’s championship belt from his 1974 boxing match against George Foreman.
Irsay also promises to display signed documents and artifacts from US presidents George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy.
Irsay claims the motivation for the free event is pure altruism, which totally could be true.
“I want no money,” he told Reuters. “This is my effort to make the world a better place. It’s to allow people to see it and share these things.”
However, the format of the featured rock concert suggests an ulterior motive. The release states that the all-star band – which includes Stephen Stills of CSNY, ZZ Top frontman Billy Gibbons, R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills, and former John Mellencamp drummer Kenny Aronoff – is a backing band for Irsay, who will “take the lead.”
Just like someone would at a rock n’ roll fantasy camp.
Register for free tickets at jimirsaycollection.com.
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