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Damien Rice splurges half a million to tune up on Bono's old guitar

Singer Damien Rice splurged some of his 'X Factor' earnings over the weekend by spending almost half a million dollars on a guitar owned by U2 frontman Bono.

The Kildare singer spent the money at a charity auction in Los Angeles to help raise money for earthquake-stricken Haiti.

And despite a host of A-list super-wealthy celebrities in attendance -- including Selma Hayek, Demi Moore, Leonardo DiCaprio, Sean Penn and Julia Roberts -- the Celbridge singer stepped up to the plate and splashed the cash on one of Bono's guitars.

A blog from 'The New York Times' last night reported the instrument was sold for nearly half a million dollars, but this could not be confirmed. Mr Rice could not be reached for comment.

The 38-year-old singer performed at the gala dinner organised by Cinema for Peace on Saturday night at the Montage Hotel which was in aid of the J/P Haitian Relief organisation.

Wearing a brown velvet blazer, a grey T-shirt and tan-coloured cords, his clothes were in stark contrast to other guests, who wore evening dress and black-tie.

Mr Rice is well-known for his charity work and has contributed to Songs for Tibet and the Freedom campaign, but has kept a relatively low profile in recent years.

However, he is expected to have enjoyed a lucrative Christmas bonus after 'X Factor' winners Little Mix blasted to the top of the charts in December with a version of his song 'Cannonball'.

The song was on his debut album 'O' which peaked at 32 in the charts when first released in 2003. It surged to nine last October after being re-released, and it was reported that the singer stood to make hundreds of thousands of euro in royalties from the 'X-Factor' version.

Mr Rice went online to respond to fans' queries about the 'X Factor' cover, saying: "Some people asking about 'Cannonball'. Once a song is released, anyone can record/release a version without approval, upon certain condition."

This appears to indicate it may not have been in his power to stop an 'X Factor' contestant recording a version of his song.

'The New York Times' last night reported it was a "pretty exciting auction".

"With a donation from Oprah Winfrey, who in a video message offered to match any contributions up to $2.5m, the event raised $5m (?4m)," it said.

Belfast Telegraph