A sitar owned and played by the late George Harrison has been sold for $62,500 (€52,972) in the United States.

The instrument was purchased from a shop on London's Oxford Street in 1965, and was used by Harrison during the recording of the Beatles song Norwegian Wood, from the Rubber Soul album.

The traditional Indian string instrument, crafted by a music shop in Kolkata, was later gifted to a friend of Harrison's first wife, Patti Boyd. Harrison had discovered the sitar in 1965, on the set of the Beatles' second film, Help.

Bidding for the sitar began on September28 at $50,000 (€42,378), and the name of the successful bidder has not been disclosed by the auctioneers.

Harrison's fascination for oriental mysticism began with Norwegian Wood, a song that was fellow Beatle John Lennon's tale of an extra-marital fling. Acoustic guitar and muted bass were augmented by the Indian instrument.

The Beatles recorded Norwegian Wood - the first Western rock band to use the sitar on a commercial recording - in October 1965.

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A year later, Harrison travelled to India to learn how to play the instrument under the renowned sitar maestro Ravi Shankar.

"We'd recorded the Norwegian Wood backing track and it needed something. We would usually start looking through the cupboard to see if we could come up with something, a new sound, and I picked the sitar up - it was just lying around; I hadn't really figured out what to do with it," Harrison said in The Beatles Anthologies.

"It was quite spontaneous: I found the notes that played the lick. It fitted and it worked."

The following year, Harrison gave the sitar to George Drummond, a friend of Patti Boyd, during the couple's honeymoon in Barbados.

And now the sitar, once described by Harrison as "very cheap" has managed to sell for more than €50,000.