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) - In Utero - UK - vinyl LP - £75.00, $103.50, €88.50 (New Item) (arrived 22-Oct-2021 13:16)on October 22, 2021 at 6:00 pm
NIRVANA In Utero (Original 1993 UK 12-track LP pressed in Holland for the UK & European market, including Heart-Shaped Box & All Apologies, glossy picture sleeve with illustrated lyric inner. The sleeve displays some light general age wear, whilethe vinyl remains Excellent with just a few light paper hairline scuffs to show play GEF24536)
- Nirvana (US) - Nirvana - 180gm - Sealed - UK - vinyl LP - £17.99, $24.83, €21.23 (New Item) (arrived 17-Aug-2021 10:02)on October 22, 2021 at 6:00 pm
NIRVANA Nirvana (2015 UK/EU 14-track LP pressed on 180-gram vinyl - Nirvana’s self-titled 7 x platinum-selling posthumous collection makes its debut as a standard 33rpm single LP vinyl edition, with Digital Download card included. Features You Know You're Right, Pennyroyal Tea, Heart-Shaped Box, Smells Like Teen Spirit, Come As You Are, The Man Who Sold The World and more. Sealed picture sleeve with hype sticker on the front. Essential!)
- Nirvana (US) - On A Plain: Rare Radio And TV Broadcasts - Sealed - UK - vinyl LP - £24.99, $34.49, €29.49 (New Item) (arrived 09-Aug-2021 13:34)on October 22, 2021 at 6:00 pm
NIRVANA On A Plain: Rare Radio And TV Broadcasts (2015 UK/EU limited edition 12-track vinyl LP, featuring live material from Saturday Night Live, Triple J FM Broadcast, KAOS FM and MTV Live & Loud. Housed in a picture sleeve and remains factory sealed from new)***Limited to only 1000 copies***
- Nirvana (US) - Aneurysm: Live San Diego 1994 · Westwood 1 · FM Broadcast - UK - vinyl LP - £24.99, $34.49, €29.49 (New Item) (arrived 09-Aug-2021 13:47)on October 22, 2021 at 6:00 pm
NIRVANA Aneurysm: Live San Diego 1994 · Westwood 1 · FM Broadcast (2015 UK/EU limited edition 11-track vinyl LP. housed in a picture sleeve and remains factory sealed from new)***Limited to only 500 copies***
- Nirvana (US) - Olympia Community Radio Session April 17th 1987 - UK - vinyl LP - £24.99, $34.49, €29.49 (New Item) (arrived 09-Aug-2021 13:50)on October 22, 2021 at 6:00 pm
NIRVANA Olympia Community Radio Session April 17th 1987 (2015 UK/EU limited edition 9-track vinyl LP. Housed in a picture sleeve and remains factory sealed from new)***Limited to only 500 copies***