Kurt Cobain’s most famous guitar sold for a record-breaking $6 million at Julien’s Auctions.
Pre-auction bids on the late Nirvana frontman’s 1959 Martin D-18E guitar — which he used during the band’s famous “MTV Unplugged in New York” concert in 1993 — hit $1 million, and the guitar received seven bids total. The winning bid came in at a whopping $6,010,00, according to Rolling Stone.
Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour’s black Fender Stratocaster previously held the record for the most expensive guitar ever sold, having fetched $3.95 million at an auction in New York last year.
Cobain’s acoustic-electric model was produced for just one year before being discontinued, making it a rare antique on its own. But in addition, the left-handed Cobain had the guitar’s bridge and nut adapted so he could play it upside down.
Cobain’s iconic guitar also came with its original hard-shell case, which Cobain had decorated with a flyer for the band Poison Idea’s 1990 album Feel the Darkness. Inside the case was an open package of guitar strings and three picks.
The winning buyer, RODE Microphones founder Peter Freedman, attended the auction live in Beverly Hills as others bid online and by phone. Freedman said he plans to display the guitar in a tour of gallery exhibitions worldwide, with proceeds going to the hard-hit performing arts industry, according to Page Six.
Before making auction history, the guitar was part of a family feud involving Isaiah Silva, the ex-husband of Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. Silva claimed that Frances gave him her dad Kurt’s guitar as a wedding gift when they married in 2014. When the two divorced in 2016, the rocker’s widow, Courtney Love, said the guitar was “not [Silva’s] to take” and the instrument became part of a legal battle.
When asked if Frances Bean legally transferred the guitar as a gift to Silva, Love told TMZ her daughter “never planned on doing that.” The Hole singer called the guitar a “treasured heirloom of the family” and said it was “the last guitar” Kurt ever played.
Cobain famously used the guitar during Nirvana’s 1993 “MTV Unplugged in New York” concert, which was taped just five months before his death. The concert featured featuring acoustic versions of the band’s songs “About a Girl,” “All Apologies,” “Come As You Are,” and “Pennyroyal Tea,” as well as a cover version of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World,” and a rendition of a Vaselines song, retitled, “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam.”
Nirvana’s accompanying MTV Unplugged in New York album hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard charts and won the Grammy Award for “Best Alternative Music Album” in 1996.
Last October, Cobain’s green cardigan from the Unplugged performance became the most expensive sweater ever auctioned when it sold at Julien’s Auctions for a whopping $334,000.