The Million-Dollar Mandolin: Bluegrass Music’s Finest Relic Finally Finds a Home

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The Million-Dollar Mandolin: Bluegrass Music’s Finest Relic Finally Finds a Home

by Randy Rudder
Southern Cultures, Vol. 13, No. 3: Music 2007

"Bill Monroe had seen a lot of troubles in his days, but nothing could have prepared him for this. Whe he entered his home, he found his 1923 Gibson F-5 mandolin, built by craftsman Lloyd Loar, smashed into several pieces, a fireplace poker lying nearby."

Bill Monroe had seen a lot of troubles in his days, but nothing could have prepared him for this. On a chilly autumn afternoon in November 1985, the “Father of Bluegrass” returned to his farm in Goodlettsville, Tennessee, after having lunch with his wife, Della, at nearby Mason’s Restaurant. When he entered his home, he found his 1923 Gibson F-5 mandolin, built by craftsman Lloyd Loar, smashed into several pieces, a fireplace poker lying nearby. A second mandolin and some photos of Monroe had also been vandalized, but nothing was stolen. Although the Goodlettsville police vandalism report on the incident estimated the instrument’s value at only $1,500, “to the bluegrass community, the wanton destruction of the mandolin was more than just vandalism; it was sheer sacrilege,” wrote Frets Magazine contributor Jim Hatlo. Various theories have been circulating for years as to who may have been the perpetrator, but no arrests have ever been made.