Frances Bean Cobain has come to a property settlement agreement with ex-husband Isaiah Silva, but she lost an iconic piece of her late father’s history in the process. According to TMZ, six months after Frances’ divorce from Silva became final, the exes finalized a settlement over property, and Kurt Cobain’s famous MTV Unplugged guitar was part of the deal.
Frances and Isaiah had been in a battle over the guitar for over a year. Cobain asked a judge to force her ex to give up the guitar, but Silva claimed Frances gave him the guitar as a gift after their wedding in 2014, according to Wonderwall. A source told TMZ that Kurt Cobain’s only child wanted to cut to the chase to cut ties with her ex and she didn’t want to get bogged down with a trial, so she agreed to let him have the Nirvana frontman’s 1959 Martin D-18E guitar.
Kurt Cobain famously played the guitar during Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance in November, 1993, just five months before he died, so it is a valuable piece of Nirvana memorabilia which could be worth several million dollars today. The bridge and nut on the piece had been customized to enable left-handed Kurt to play it upside down.
After Kurt Cobain’s death, Nirvana released MTV Unplugged in New York as an unintentional posthumous album. The live acoustic performance included stripped-down versions of the Nirvana songs “Come as You Are,” “Something in the Way,” “Pennyroyal Tea,” and more, as well as David Bowie’s “The Man who Sold the World.”
Frances Cobain was just a baby at the time of her father’s 1994 suicide, so her memories of the guitar are likely limited to the taped Unplugged performance. But Frances’ mother, Courtney Love, has described the instrument as “a treasured heirloom of the family’s,” per Wonderwall.
“He’s larger than life and our culture is obsessed with dead musicians,” Cobain said. “We love to put them on a pedestal. If Kurt had just been another guy who abandoned his family in the most awful way possible… But he wasn’t. He inspired people to put him on a pedestal, to become St. Kurt. He became even bigger after he died than he was when he was alive. You don’t think it could have gotten any bigger. But it did.”
While the loss of her famous father’s guitar is a major blow, TMZ reports that Frances Cobain won’t have to pay her ex-husband any of the $25,000 per month in spousal support that he requested and she gets to keep the house they bought together.
You can see Kurt Cobain playing his famous guitar on MTV Unplugged below.