Rock and roll memorabilia has become a booming investors market, with Kurt Cobain items considered top-shelf. In March, the hospital gown the Nirvana frontman wore during their 1992 Reading Festival performance went under the hammer and in May, a paper plate that Kurt ate pizza off of sold at auction for an astonishing $22,000!
Now, the green cardigan Kurt Cobain wore during Nirvana’s legendary MTV Unplugged performance is heading to auction for the second time in four years, this time the item is expected to fetch more than double the $137,500 that it did in 2015. And yes, it’s still never been washed. Speaking to Rolling Stone, Julien’s Auctions auctioneer Darren Julien said it was, “very important” that Cobain’s cardigan remains unwashed. “The stains are still there. There’s even cigarettes burns that you can see on the sweater.”
The grunge trio’s acoustic performance on the MTV series was recorded live in November 1993, five months before Cobain’s untimely death at the age of 27. Footage of the performance and the posthumously released live album, MTV Unplugged in New York, became rock and roll folklore following the singer's passing.
Nirvana | “The Man Who Sold The World” [MTV Unplugged]
In November 2015, Kurt's 'Manhattan' brand sweater … “a blend of acrylic, mohair and Lycra with five-button closure (one button absent), with two exterior pockets, a burn hole and discoloration near left pocket and discoloration on right pocket” … sold for $137,500 through Julien’s Auctions, more than twice the pre-auction estimate of $60,000.
The current owner (a businessman/grunge fan who prefers to remain anonymous) has stored the piece in a safe, wrapped in acid-free tissue. When the sweater returns to Julien’s block on October 25th, the pre-auction minimum will be set at $200,000; however, according to the listing, that minimum bid has already been matched and Julien's expect the sweater to reach bids upwards of $300,000.
“Rock & roll memorabilia has become an investment,” Julien told Rolling Stone. “It’s not just a collector’s market … it’s an investor’s market. The person that bought the sweater in 2015 bought it as an investment. Now, because we’ve been getting record prices for Kurt Cobain, people are starting to sell it. We anticipate that it will sell for more than double. I call it the new fine art market. People are investing more and more in pop culture, especially rock & roll. It’s a way to diversify their portfolios.”
As was the case with the 2015 auction, the sweater comes with a handwritten letter of provenance from Jackie Farry, Frances Bean Cobain’s nanny and a close friend of Courtney Love, who gifted Farry with the sweater following Cobain’s death in April of 1994. The October 25th and 26th auction also feature handwritten lyrics by artists like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin and Eric Clapton, including a working draft of “Layla.”
Listen to Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance on Spotify:
Listen to Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance on Apple Music: