Kurt Cobain’s MTV Unplugged Acoustic Guitar Is Headed to Auction

Kurt Cobain’s MTV Unplugged Acoustic Guitar Is Headed to Auction

kurt cobain, mtv unplugged
Kurt Cobain taping of  'MTV Unplugged,' New York, New York, November 18, 1993. Photo by Frank Micelotta/Getty Images.

Get the cheque book out – in what has already been an avalanche week of news about iconic pieces of music memorabilia headed to auction next month – the mother lode announcement has just been dropped. Kurt Cobain’s acoustic guitar, the very one he played during Nirvana’s 1993 MTV Unplugged in New York performance, will go under the hammer at Julien’s Auctions’ Music Icons sale, with an estimated starting bid of $1 million. 

The 1959 Martin D-18E comes in its original hard-shell case, decorated by Cobain with a flyer for Oregon punk rockers, Poison Idea’s 1990 album, Feel the Darkness. The case is also stamped with baggage-claim stubs and airline stickers. Miscellaneous goodies found inside the case include a half-used pack of guitar strings, three picks, and a “suede ‘stash’ bag”.

Watch below as Kurt jokes about starting a donation box because he wants to buy Leadbelly’s guitar, offered to him by the Leadbelly estate for the bargain price of $500,000. “I even asked David Geffen personally if he’d buy it for me, but…” he trails off, shaking his head. If only he knew the exponential future value of the instrument he was holding in his own hands at the time! 

Nirvana | “Where Did You Sleep Last Night” [Live On MTV Unplugged - Unedited]

“This important guitar has earned its rightful place in rock & roll history as the instrument played by one of rock’s most influential musicians and icons in one of the greatest and most memorable live performances of all time,” Darren Julien, president and CEO of the auction house, said in a statement.

Julien’s Music Icons 2020 collection, boasting over 700 pieces of highly-collectable, rare and precious pieces, is possibly one of the most extensive collections of music memorabilia to ever head to sale. Along with other MTV Unplugged relics from Nirvana’s famed performance – including a Fender Stratocaster smashed by Cobain during 1994’s In Utero tour and the silver lamé shirt he wore filming the “Heart-Shaped Box” music video – is a literal treasure trove of classic rock history. 

Some of the incredible items on offer include Prince’s custom-made ‘Blue Cloud’ guitar, a hand-written journal belonging to Jim Morrison, unreleased alternate versions of songs David Bowie recorded in 1966, Elvis Presley’s jewellery and personal items, outfits worn by Elton John, Mick Jagger, AC/DC, and Freddie Mercury and so much more. Check out the full details here. 

Last year, the cardigan Cobain wore during the filming of the MTV Unplugged performance sold through Julien’s Auctions for a record-breaking sum of $334,000 – making it the most expensive cardigan ever sold at auction. 

Earlier this week, it was also announced that the original, cover art image from Led Zeppelin’s 1969 self-titled debut album will go under the hammer next month at Christie’s in New York, just days before Julien’s Music Icons kicks off. The iconic piece of artwork is expected to fetch between $20,000 to $30,000. More details here. Julien’s Music Icons 2020 auction will take place June 19th and 20th in Beverly Hills, but interested parties from around the globe can take part via the Julien’s Auctions website – here. 

Happy bidding!

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