Kurt Cobain 'Unplugged' guitar sells for record $6 million at auction

Kurt Cobain of Nirvana during the taping of MTV Unplugged.
Kurt Cobain of Nirvana during the taping of MTV Unplugged.
Photo: Frank Micelotta Archive/Getty Images
  • The guitar that Kurt Cobain used during a 1993 MTV Unplugged performance has been sold at auction. 
  • The retro acoustic-electric 1959 Martin D-18E sold for a record $6 million.
  • This makes it the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction.

The guitar that grunge rock icon Kurt Cobain played during his legendary 1993 MTV Unplugged performance sold Saturday for a record $6 million (around R103.6 million at current exchange rate), the auction house said.

The retro acoustic-electric 1959 Martin D-18E that Cobain strummed for Nirvana's career-defining performance in New York - just five months before his suicide at age 27 - sold after a bidding war to Peter Freedman, founder of RODE Microphones, Julien's Auctions said.

At $6.01 million after fees and commission, the instrument is the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction, among other records.

The starting estimate was $1 million (R17.2 million).

Freedman said he plans to display the guitar in a worldwide tour, with proceeds going to benefit performing arts.

"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," the Australian was quoted as saying by Julien's Auctions.

The guitar was sold with its case, which Cobain had decorated with a flyer from punk rock band Poison Idea's 1990 album Feel the Darkness.

Until now, the most expensive guitar in history was a Fender Stratocaster, dubbed "Black Strat," used by Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour.

It had been sold by the musician for nearly $4 million during a charity sale in June 2019.

Nirvana's acoustic performance during the taping for the popular MTV Unplugged series on 18 November, 1993 became what is considered one of history's greatest live albums.

It included renditions of Nirvana's hits About A Girl and Come As You Are along with covers including David Bowie's The Man Who Sold the World.

In October 2019 Cobain's cigarette-singed cardigan worn during the Unplugged performance sold for $334,000 (R5.7 million).

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