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.
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- Nirvana (US) - Unplugged In New York - 180gm - Sealed - UK - vinyl LP - £25.00, $34.00, €28.00 (New Item) (arrived 22-Feb-2021 13:01)on March 5, 2021 at 7:27 pm
NIRVANA Unplugged In New York (2017 UK limited edition 14-track LP pressed on 180gram Vinyl, originally released in 1994, the album features songs performed for MTV's Unplugged, including Come As You Are, All Apologies, Pennyroyal Tea,About A Girl and The Man Who Sold The World. Housed in a picture sleeve with illustrated credits inner - still sealed in its hype stickered shrinkwrap, therefore near as new and unplayed)
- Nirvana (US) - Incesticide - 180gram Vinyl - Sealed - UK - 2-LP vinyl set - £30.00, $40.80, €33.60 (New Item) (arrived 22-Feb-2021 12:47)on March 5, 2021 at 7:27 pm
NIRVANA Incesticide (2017 UK & European Limited 25th Anniversary Edition 15-track remastered double LP 'Back to Black' series issue of their 1992 compilation album pressed on 180gram Heavyweight Vinyl, including consists of their 1990 non-album single 'Sliver', along with a collection of B-sides, demos, outtakes, covers, and radio broadcast recordings. Housed in a gatefold picture sleeve which remains sealed in its original shrinkwrap, therefore as new and in unplayed condition)
- Nirvana (US) - Bleach - 180gm - US - 2-LP vinyl set - £25.00, $34.00, €28.00 (New Item) (arrived 22-Feb-2021 12:37)on March 5, 2021 at 7:27 pm
NIRVANA Bleach (2009 US Deluxe Limited 20th Anniversary Edition 25-track double LP pressed on 180gram Vinyl, Nirvana's debut album expanded with a live recording of a complete February 9th, 1990 show at the Pine Street Theatre in Portland, Oregon. Housed in a gatefold picture sleeve with a 16-page picture booklet which includes candid photos of the band not previously released to the public. The packaging shows only minor age wear & the vinyl has just the odd light surface scuff, but shows few light signs of play SP834)
- Nirvana (US) - In Utero - 180gm - German - vinyl LP - £20.00, $27.20, €22.40 (New Item) (arrived 22-Feb-2021 12:23)on March 5, 2021 at 7:27 pm
NIRVANA In Utero (2015 German remastered audiophile issue of the classic 1993 12-track LP, pressed on 180gm vinyl, with illustrated inner, picture sleeve reproducing the original album artwork. The sleeve shows just a little shelfwear & the vinyl displays little evidence of play)
- Nirvana (US) - Nevermind - 180gm - UK - vinyl LP - £24.99, $33.99, €27.99 (New Item) (arrived 22-Feb-2021 12:19)on March 5, 2021 at 7:27 pm
NIRVANA Nevermind (2015 UK limited edition 'Back to Black' series issue of their 1991 12-track LP pressed on 180gram Heavyweight Vinyl, this was the benchmark which launched the grunge genre and influenced a generation, including classic tracks such as Smells Like Teen Spirit, Lithium and Come As You Are. The legendary picture sleeve comes with the picture/credit insert inner and the vinyl looks barely played)