Kurt Cobain’s 'MTV Unplugged' guitar sells for $6M at auction, becomes world's most expensive guitar ever sold
The Nirvana frontman used the 1959 Martin D-18E guitar at the iconic Nirvana set on 'MTV Unplugged' in 1993
Kurt Cobain’s 1959 Martin D-18E guitar sold at auction on June 21 for a total of $6.01 million. This breaks the record for the most expensive guitar ever sold at an auction. The previous record was $3.95 million last year for a Black Stratocaster owned by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.
Pre-auction bids on the Nirvana frontman's acoustic-electric guitar, purchased at Los Angeles’ Voltage Guitars and modified for the left-handed Cobain, reached $1 million even before bidding officially opened Saturday, June 20. The Julien's Auctions website stated that four $1 million bids were placed prior and on auction day three additional bids were placed, one of which was the winning bid $6,010,00. The victorious bidder was Rode Microphones co-founder Peter Freedman who was present at the event.
The guitar also came with its original hard-shell case that Cobain had adorned with a flyer for the band Poison Idea’s 1990 album 'Feel the Darkness'. A half-used pack of Martin guitar strings, three picks, and a "suede 'stash' bag" that is decorated with a small silver spoon, fork and knife are inside the case. Cobain used the guitar in Nirvana’s iconic 'MTV Unplugged' set in 1993. The famous gig featured stripped-down renditions of Nirvana classics such as 'Come As You Are', 'Dumb' and 'About A Girl', as well as several covers of songs by David Bowie, Meat Puppets and Leadbelly. The performance released as a live album after Cobain's death and earned Nirvana a Grammy in 1996 for best alternative music performance.
Darren Julien, president and CEO of the auction house, previously said in a statement, “This important guitar has earned its rightful place in rock & roll history as the instrument played by one of rock’s most influential musicians and icons in one of the greatest and most memorable live performances of all time."
Other Nirvana’s 'MTV Unplugged' performance items included in the auction were Meat Puppet frontman Curt Kirkwood’s handwritten lyric sheet to the band's song 'Oh, Me', a typed setlist from the legendary gig, typed-out lyrics for David Bowie’s 'The Man Who Sold the World' and Meat Puppets’ 'Lake of Fire', and a letter to Cobain from Nirvana’s management company nine days before the Unplugged performance outlining potential songs for the gig.
In October last year, Cobain’s green cardigan from the Unplugged performance sold at Julien’s Auctions for $334,000, breaking records as the most expensive sweater ever purchased at auction.