He died in 2016 from an accidental painkiller overdose. While the whereabouts of the other three have long been known, his Blue Angel had not been seen since the late 1990s. It only emerged when its anonymous owner offered it for sale at auction last year. He is believed to have been given it by Prince himself but he was not aware of its exact history. Experts then began a painstaking investigation to prove its authenticity, including having it undergo a CT scan.
By running it through the scanner the auctioneers were able to match repairs to known work the Blue Angel had undergone.
It is now going under the hammer with Julien’s Auctions of Los Angeles.
They had given it a pre-sale estimate of a few hundred thousand but they have had so much interest and early bidding on it they believe it will achieve much more.
Martin Nolan, of Julien’s Auctions, said: “The guitar first came to us last year as an early guitar used by Prince.
“We listed it for around $ 200,000 but were then contacted by Cloud guitar expert John Woodland.
“He had seen it and thought we could have the famous Blue Angel. It took a lot of research but by sharing our resources we got to the bottom of it.
“It’s definitely the first time I’ve sent a guitar to have a CT scan, that’s for sure. It has been painted and repaired a number of times over the years but is such a huge discovery. The owners of the other three Cloud guitars are not going to be selling any time soon so this opportunity may never come up again.
“I think this will easily top $ 1million. There is no ceiling to how well it could do – it really is that iconic.”
Of the four Cloud guitars used by Prince, one was given away as a competition prize, one is privately owned and the other is held at the Smithsonian Museum in New York.
The fourth one has been painted and repaired several times down the years – owing to Prince’s habit of destroying his instruments.
It has been white, peach, light blue, yellow, and finally purple blue.
The sale is next Friday.