Prince's "Yellow Cloud" electric guitar to go under the hammer

Judith Hill, an artist and protege of Prince, told the New York Times the two were chatting over dinner as they flew from Atlanta to Prince's home near Minneapolis when he suddenly lost consciousness Hill, 32, noticed that "his eyes fixed" just before he seemed to nod off shortly after 1 am (05 (AFP Photo/Ethan Miller) (Getty/AFP/File)

New York (AFP) - Prince's iconic "Yellow Cloud" electric guitar is to go under the hammer in Beverly Hills with an opening bid of $30,000, a US auction house said Friday.

It was the singer's instrument of choice during the late 1980s and early 1990s, and its eccentric design went on to form part of the infamous symbol that he adopted as his name during his contract dispute with Warner Bros.

"One glimpse and you have no doubt that this is Prince's guitar," Garry Shrum, director of music memorabilia at Texas-based Heritage Auctions, said in a statement.

The pop legend died at the age of 57 on April 21 with no will and no recognized children, with his sister and five half-siblings listed as heirs and a special administrator temporarily put in charge of his estate.

Prince was rarely photographed during the late 1980s without the bright yellow maple wood instrument, complete with a gold-tinted "tune-o-matic" style bridge, tailpiece and machine heads and a distinctive elongated upper horn.

"As celebrity stage-used instruments go, this piece is as unique as Beethoven's piano or John Coltrane's saxophone," he added.

The Yellow Cloud was used in the studio, in videos and at gigs until the neck broke on a French TV show in 1994.

It was repaired but confined to the recording studio and eventually made way for the "Symbol" guitar identified with Prince's later work.

It will be sold at Heritage's Beverly Hills auction house on June 24-25 alongside a number of other rarities, including a 1970s demo tape with track listing written in Prince's own hand.

The cause of the singer's death has yet to be determined but investigators are examining whether he was killed by prescription painkillers.