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) - Unplugged In New York - White Vinyl (stickered p/s) - EX - German - vinyl LP - £150.00, $184.50, €175.50 (New Item) (arrived 30-Nov-2022 10:00)on December 3, 2022 at 3:32 pm
NIRVANA Unplugged In New York (1994 German limited edition 14-track LP pressed on WHITE VINYL, featuring songs performed for MTV's Unplugged, fully textured picture sleeve with square song hype sticker on the front plus llustrated credits inner. The sleeve is Excellent with just a small crease mark in one corner & the vinyl is Near Mint with few signs of play GEF24727)
- Nirvana (US) - Nevermind - 180gm - Silver Hype Sticker - UK - vinyl LP - £95.00, $116.85, €111.15 (New Item) (arrived 23-Nov-2022 11:45)on December 3, 2022 at 3:32 pm
NIRVANA Nevermind (1997 UK 'Simply Vinyl' limited edition 12-track LP pressed on 180gram Virgin Vinyl, housed in a glossy picture sleeve, still in the original silver hype stickered and embossed PVC dust jacket. This copy has been opened but retains the original circular sticker seal on the back, and remains in a 'near as new' condition with minimal signs of play SVLP0038)
- Nirvana (US) - In Utero - 180 Gram Vinyl - UK - 3-LP vinyl set - £175.00, $215.25, €204.75 (New Item) (arrived 09-Nov-2022 11:25)on December 3, 2022 at 3:32 pm
NIRVANA In Utero (2013 UK limited edition 20-track triple LP set pressed on 180 Gram Vinyl, released to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the third and final studio album by the American grunge band, which was originally released on the 13th September 1993. This edition features the remastered edition of the album along with B-Sides & Bonus Tracks including the previously unreleased Steve Albini mixes. Fold-out picture sleeve which is still factory sealed from new, leavingit Mint and unplayed!)
- Nirvana (US) - Classic Albums: Nevermind - US - Universal Media - £12.99, $15.98, €15.20 (Back In Stock) (arrived 28-Oct-2022 15:38)on December 3, 2022 at 3:32 pm
NIRVANA Classic Albums: Nevermind (2004 US issue Region 0 UMD [Universal Media Disc - designed exclusively for use on the Playstation Portable/PSP], featuring surviving members Krist Novoselic & Dave Grohl talking candidly about their past, the recording of 'Nevermind', Kurt Cobain and the legacy he left behind with exclusive interviews with Garry Gersh [A&R DGC Records], Thurston Moore [Sonic Youth], Nils Bernstein [Sub Pop Records] plus bonus material including additional interviews and a live performance of 'Polly'. The disc comes issued in the sealed casing with a deletion punch hole to the barcode of the picture insert)
- Nirvana (US) - Hormoaning - Original Issue - Japanese - CD album - £75.00, $92.25, €87.75 (New Item) (arrived 03-Oct-2022 16:33)on December 3, 2022 at 3:32 pm
NIRVANA Hormoaning (Rare original 1992 Japanese-only 6-track CD EP, including Turnaround, Aneurysm, D-7, Son Of A Gun, Even In His Youth and Molly's Lips, with correct track numbering on disc, picture sleeve booklet with Japanese text & obi-strip MVCG-17002)