Kurt Cobain’s guitar from Nirvana’s iconic MTV Unplugged in New York performance has sold at auction for a record $6 million, making it the mos expensive guitar ever sold, with the previous record being $3.95 million for a Black Stratocaster owned by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.
The 1959 Martin D-18E featured in the grunge group’s legendary acoustic performance in November 1993, five months before Cobain’s death aged 27, with that concert now being considered one of history’s greatest live performances.
Organiser Julien’s Auctions opened the bidding at a million dollars, but that was quickly shattered when Aussie founder of RØDE Microphones, Peter Freedman, outbid competitors from around the world to pay US $6,010,000 (AUS $8.8m) for the acoustic.
Freedman plans to display the guitar in a worldwide exhibition tour, taking the instrument to galleries and art spaces with all proceeds going to help struggling artists.
“It’s a big deal. I didn’t even buy it for me. I paid for it but I’m going to use it to highlight the plight of artists worldwide by touring it around and then I’m going to sell it and use the dough for that as well, later,” Freedman tells the PA news agency (via The Guardian), who also revealed he was scared shitless when the auctioneer’s gavel dropped.
Freedman, whose family first opened an electronics shop in Sydney in 1967, also added, “The musicians and artists have supported my family since the 60s. We’ve been in that game forever so I’ve been very lucky with Rode and I’ve been able to give away lots of money, quite a few mill.”
The guitar, which was modified for the left-handed Cobain, also came with its original hard-shell case that Cobain had adorned with a flyer for the band Poison Idea’s 1990 album Feel the Darkness. Inside the case is a half-used pack of Martin guitar strings, three picks, and a suede ‘stash’ bag that’s decorated with a small silver spoon, fork, and knife.
Other Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance items included in the Julien’s Auctions lot included Curt Kirkwood’s handwritten lyric sheet to the Meat Puppets’ “Oh, Me,” a typed setlist from the legendary gig, typed-out lyrics for David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” and Meat Puppets’ “Lake of Fire,” and a letter to Cobain from Nirvana’s management company nine days before the Unplugged performance outlining potential songs for the gig.
In October last year, Cobain’s green cardigan from the Unplugged performance sold at Julien’s Auctions for $334,000, making it the most expensive sweater ever purchased at auction.
What a time.