Kurt Cobain’s iconic acoustic guitar, which he played during Nirvana’s MTV: Unplugged session, sold for $6,010,000 at auction today by an anonymous seller, making it the most expensive guitar ever sold. Cobain had played the guitar five months before his death in 1994. Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, has been involved in a feud over the guitar with her ex-husband for the past several years.
According to Blabbermouth, the man who bought Kurt Cobain’s guitar, Peter Freedman, plans on displaying the guitar in gallery exhibitions throughout the world. Freedman hopes the guitar will inspire those who are struggling in the performing arts, and called the purchase a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Frances Cobain has been involved in lawsuits over the guitar since her separation with ex-husband, Isaiah Silva. Silva claims Cobain had gifted him the guitar shortly after they had been married, Cobain stating she had not and that the guitar rightfully belongs to her. The 1959 Martin D-18E is one of 300 which had been made, with Kurt Cobain customizing it so he could play the guitar left-handed. A family law judge sided with Silva, allowing him to keep the guitar.
Frances Cobain and Courtney Love have allegedly tried to get the guitar back, calling it a “treasured heirloom” for the family. The guitar is the last known guitar that Kurt Cobain had played before his death in 1994, the Nirvana frontman committing suicide at the age of 27. In 2018, Silva filed a suit against Love, Britney Spears’ former manager Sam Lufti, and 13 Reasons Why actor Ross Butler, alleging the three had plotted to kidnap and murder him in an alleged conspiracy to take possession of the guitar. The suit claims Love, Butler and Lufti allegedly tried to trespass into Silva’s property and murder him. The suit also alleges the three had hacking into Silva’s iMessage account and posted messages to try and make him look suicidal.
Last year, the green sweater which Kurt Cobain wore during the Unplugged set had sold for $334,000, making it the most expensive sweater ever sold at auction. The sweater still had stains and cigarette burns made by Kurt Cobain. The same auction also sold Cobain’s custom-built Fender Mustang guitar, which had been used for the In Utero Tour, for $340,000. The acoustic guitar was expected to sell for $1-2 million, with bidding surpassing $1 million before the auction even officially opened.
During the Unplugged set, before beginning their now-famous cover of “Where Did You Sleep Last Night?,” Krist Noveselic had joked about a donation basket going around to raise funds so Kurt Cobain could purchase Huddie William Ledbetter, better known as Lead Belly’s, former guitar. Cobain said he had been approached to buy the guitar for $500,000, and asked David Geffen, the DGC Records Boss, if he would buy it for him. At the time, Noveselic, Cobain and the audience all laughed at the astronomical $500,000 asking price.
The previous most-expensive guitar had been David Gilmour of Pink Floyd’s Black Stratocaster, which sold for $3.95 million in 2019. Along with Kurt Cobain’s guitar at today’s auction, a signed “Nevermind” poster was sold for $56,250, a camera including original negatives and signed prints from Nirvana’s 1992 SPIN magazine photoshoot sold for $35,000 and several Nirvana all-access passes sold for $512 each.