Kurt Cobain’s iconic MTV Unplugged guitar has sold for a massive $6,010,000 (around £4.83 million) at auction and has obliterated FIVE world records in the process.
The late-great Nirvana frontman played the 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic-electric guitar for the band’s MTV Unplugged set at Sony Music Studios in New York City on 18th November 1993 – just five months before his untimely death aged 27.
The guitar went under the hammer at Julien’s Auctions Music Icons auction in Beverly Hills, California on Saturday (20th June) and sold for six times its estimate of one million US dollars.
In the process it set an astonishing five world records – World’s Most Expensive Guitar, World’s Most Expensive Acoustic Guitar, World’s Most Expensive Martin Guitar, World’s Most Expensive Piece of Memorabilia and World’s Most Expensive Nirvana Memorabilia.
David Gilmour’s fabled guitar, The Black Strat, previously set the world record for the World’s Most Expensive Guitar in June 2019 when it fetched $3,975,000 (£3,134,000) at Christie’s in New York as part of the David Gilmour Guitar Collection auction.
The buyer of Kurt Cobain’s guitar was Peter Freedman, Founder of RØDE Microphones, who plans to display the guitar at exhibitions in galleries around the globe, with all proceeds (including the guitar) going to the performing arts.
Peter Freedman with Kurt Cobain’s MTV Unplugged guitar
Peter Freedman says: “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.”
He continues: “The global arts industry has been shattered by the impact of COVID-19, with musicians and artists being amongst the most affected. The last few months were the straw that broke the camel’s back, and for many in the arts brought forth the harsh reality that they work in an industry for which there is little support in times of need.”
“For most, access to financial and health services – particularly mental health services – is very limited. While many industries are gradually returning to normal, it’s going to take a long time before this industry can begin functioning as it was. The toll this has taken and will continue to take is enormous and requires more than just lip service. It requires action now, and I am a man of action.”
Commenting on MTV Unplugged, Freedman adds: “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 early-90s were RØDE’s formative years, and Nirvana’s music was very much the soundtrack to that time in my life and that era of the company.”
Kurt’s Cobain’s guitar was the seventh of only 302 D-18Es built by Martin and was customised by Kurt, who added a Bartolini pickup to the soundhole.
Kurt Cobain’s guitar and case
On top of the guitar, the item came with a hard-shell guitar case decorated by Kurt with a flyer of Poison Idea’s 1990 album ‘Feel the Darkness’, and it also features baggage reclaim ticket stubs.
Inside the case is Kurt’s half-used pack of Martin guitar strings, three guitar picks, and his suede “stash” bag decorated with a miniature silver spoon, fork, and knife.
‘MTV Unplugged in New York’ was released as an album on 1st November 1994 and sold almost 7 million copies in its first four months alone.
EIL.COM Favourite Music Update Rare CDs, CD Singles, Rare Records, Vinyl Records, Albums and Music
- Nirvana (US) - Sliver - Black Vinyl + Black Label Reissue - US - 7" vinyl - £15.00, $18.90, €17.70 (New Item) (arrived 24-May-2022 14:35)on May 26, 2022 at 8:36 am
NIRVANA Sliver (2000 US Sub Pop issue 7" single pressed on black vinyl, also including Dive, housed in a wraparound picture sleeve in a barcode stickered clear PVC sleeve SP73)
- Nirvana (US) - Oh The Guilt - Blue Vinyl - EX - UK - 7" vinyl - £35.00, $44.10, €41.30 (New Item) (arrived 24-May-2022 14:24)on May 26, 2022 at 8:36 am
NIRVANA Oh The Guilt (Scarce 1993 UK limited edition injection moulded 7" single pressed on Translucent Blue Vinyl, with 'Puss' by THE JESUS LIZARD on the A-side. The glossy picture sleeve has just a littlelight edgewear and the vinyl appears barely played TG83)
- Nirvana (US) - Sub Pop Rock City - German - vinyl LP - £45.00, $56.70, €53.10 (New Item) (arrived 17-May-2022 09:41)on May 26, 2022 at 8:36 am
NIRVANA/ VARIOUS Sub Pop Rock City (1989 German issue 11-track vinyl LP compilation, notable for including the first ever Nirvana track to be released, 'Spank Thru'. Also includes further songs by Mudhoney, Tad, Soundgarden and Green River, housed in a full glossy gatefold sleeve with rare pictures of each band across the inner spread. The sleeve shows light discolouration, whilst the vinyl is Excellent with very few signs of play - A nice slice of the Seattle/grungescene history!GR0052)
- Nirvana (US) - Nirvana - Smoke Vinyl - Sealed - US - vinyl LP - £75.00, $94.50, €88.50 (New Item) (arrived 27-Apr-2022 15:40)on May 26, 2022 at 8:36 am
NIRVANA Nirvana (Scarce 2020 US limited edition 14-track LP reissue of their 2002 compilation album, pressed on Smoky Vinyl exclusively for Walmart Stores; including a collection of songs from their three studio albums and the live album 'MTV Unplugged in New York', plus the previously unreleased 'You Know You're Right', recorded in 1994 during Nirvana's final studio session, a version of 'Been a Son' plus the Scott Litt remix of 'Pennyroyal Tea'. The vinyl is UNPLAYED housed in the black & white-titled sleeve which remains sealed within the custom-stickered shrinkwrap)
- Nirvana (US) - Nevermind - German - cassette album - £25.00, $31.50, €29.50 (New Item) (arrived 07-Apr-2022 13:01)on May 26, 2022 at 8:36 am
NIRVANA Nevermind (Original 1991 German Geffen label 12-track cassette album, with fold-out picture insert GEC24425)