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Keith Richards’ Blue Lena: The Notorious Bentley of the Rolling Stones’ guitarist

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Keith Richards’ Blue Lena

Keith Richards’ famous blue Bentley which he acquired in 1965. Richards purchased the car in 1965 and nicknamed the car “Blue Lena’’ after jazz singer Lena Horne. He later had the car fitted with a hidden compartment in order to hide the Stones’s illegal narcotics stash. “Having this car was already heading for trouble, breaking the rules of the establishment, driving a car I was definitely not born in to,’’ Keith said in his 2010 biography Life. “‘Blue Lena’ carried us on many an acid-filled journey.’’ The most notorious of those journeys occurred after authorities raided Richards’s home in 1967 while the band was “high on various illegal substances.’’

As a result of the raid, Richards was charged with illegal possession of narcotics. Leading up to his court appearance, Richards proposed the band take a trip to Marrakech, Morocco, a place where drugs were more freely tolerated. Mick Jagger and his then-girlfriend Marianne Faithfull flew down, while Richards arranged for Brian Jones (the band’s founder and original frontman) and his girlfriend model Anita Pallenberg and friend Deborah Dixon to drive to North Africa with him in Blue Lena. At the time of the journey, Jones and Pallenberg’s relationship was on shaky grounds. During the journey, Jones came down with a bout of pneumonia and had to remain behind in France to seek treatment. Dixon was next to fall ill and was forced to stay behind in Spain.

With no company to run interference between them, Richards and Pallenberg initiated a relationship in the car’s back seat “somewhere between Barcelona and Valencia.’’ Their relationship would last 23 years and result in three children. But the relationship also fractured Richards’s ties with Jones, who spent the rest of the trip to Marrakech in a drug-induced state. The band would eventually leave him behind in Morocco. In 1976, Richards crashed the Bentley into a tree after falling asleep at the wheel. His nose struck the dashboard so hard that it left an indentation.

In 1978, Richards sold it and it has changed hands several times since then. “Following a five-year restoration, Blue Lena has been returned to its former glory,’’ said Bonham’s Group Motoring Director James Knight in a statement. Knight added that the auction will take place at Chichester, West Sussex, very close to the 1967 raid that would forever change the band’s history. In 2015, at Bonhams’ September 12 Goodwood Revival Sale, a variety of motor cars, airplanes and automobiles went under the hammer in front of a packed crowd of enthusiastic bidders. A blue Bentley S3 Continental ‘Flying Spur’ that once took Keith Richards and friends on a drug-fuelled adventure from England to Morocco sold above estimate, which led Blue Lena to achieve a total of $1,186,133.

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