Kurt Cobain’s MTV Unplugged guitar smashes David Gilmour world record at auction

From Planet Rock.

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 guitarPeter Freedman © Julien’s Auctions

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 caseKurt Cobain’s guitar and case

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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