Kurt Cobain’s ‘Unplugged’ guitar has $1 million auction estimate

Kurt Cobain’s Iconic MTV Unplugged Guitar
The 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic guitar played by the late Kurt Cobain during the live taping of “MTV Unplugged” in 1985 is seen in an undated photo before going up for auction in Beverly Hills, California on June 19-June 20, 2020. (Courtesy of Julien’s Auctions/Handout via Reuters)


Kurt Cobain’s cardigan sold for a record $334,000 last year. Now the acoustic guitar the punk rocker played for Nirvana’s “MTV Unplugged” session, just five months before his death, is expected to fetch around $1 million at auction in June.

Julien’s Auctions said on Monday the 1959 Martin D-18E guitar that Cobain played for the 1993 live taping is going up for sale, The guitar comes with battered case, whose storage compartment contains a small suede bag where the musician is said to have stashed the heroin he was addicted to in his final years.

The Nirvana frontman recorded the “Unplugged” session in November 1993. He was found dead, aged 27, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Seattle home in April 1994.

Julien’s Chief Executive Darren Julien said the guitar “has earned its rightful place in 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.”

The album “MTV Unplugged in New York,” featuring acoustic versions of tracks like “About a Girl,” “Apologies” and a cover version of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World,” was released after Cobain’s death, topped the Billboard charts, and won a Grammy.

The olive green cardigan worn by Cobain for the session sold for $334,000 at auction in October 2019 in what Julien’s said was a world record for a cardigan.

The $1 million expected for the guitar is just a starting estimate, Julien’s said. The world record for a guitar was set in June 2019 when Pink Floyd musician David Gilmour’s black Fender Stratocaster sold for $3.9 million at auction in New York

Other Cobain items up in the June 19-20 auction in Beverly Hills will include a Fender Stratocaster guitar he used on Nirvana’s 1994 “In Utero” tour (estimated at $60,000-$80,000), a metallic silver lame shirt worn for the 1993 music video for “Heart-shaped Box” ($10,000-$20,000) and the typed set list he used for the MTV session ($4,000-$6,000).

All the items come from various people who worked with Cobain or were associated with his family, Julien’s said.

Cobain’s acoustic guitar will be placed on public display at the Hard Rock Cafe in London’s Piccadilly Circus from May 15, and at Julien’s Auctions gallery in Beverly Hills from June 15-19.