Kurt Cobain's iconic guitar sold at auction


June 22, 2020

Kurt Cobain's MTV Unplugged guitar has shattered records at auction. It isn't unusual for rock memorabilia to fetch a high price but this one has broken records.

The Nirvana rocker's 1959 Martin D-18E electric-acoustic guitar, which he strummed during the group's historic TV gig in 1993 - five months before his death, has set new memorabilia records after going under the hammer for over $6 million (£4.8 million) at a Julien's Auctions Music Icons event on Saturday.

It has become the most expensive guitar and Nirvana item ever sold at auction.

The buyer was Peter Freedman, the founder of RODE Microphones, who attended the live auction in Beverly Hills. He plans to exhibit the instrument as part of a worldwide tour, with all proceeds benefiting the performing arts.

"When I heard that this iconic guitar was up for auction I immediately knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure it and use it as a vehicle to spotlight the struggles that those in the performing arts are facing and have always faced...," the new owner explains.

"Nirvana's Unplugged is one of my favourite records of all time, and easily one of the best live performances ever captured on film. They were a huge influence on me."

The guitar was the seventh of only 302 D-18Es built by Martin and was customised by Cobain.

Accompanying the sale of the guitar is its original hard-shell case, personalised by Cobain with a flyer from the punk rock band Poison Idea's 1990 album Feel the Darkness, three baggage claim ticket stubs, and an Alaska Airlines Fragile sticker affixed to the case. The item also features a partial set of Martin & Co. Phospher Bronze guitar strings, three Dunlop 60mm guitar picks, and a small black velvet pouch containing a miniature knife, fork, and spoon lapel pins each with pinbacks.

Cobain daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, lost the guitar in her nasty divorce battle after her ex-husband, Isaiah Silva, maintained it was given to him as a wedding gift, and therefore he was the rightful owner of the instrument.

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