A self-portrait of Kurt Cobain sold for $281,250 at Julien’s Auctions’ Music Icons sale, which ran from June 11-13, 2021. $10,000 was the original estimate for the self-portrait, so the final sale price exceeded expectations by 28 times that figure.
The drawing is a caricature of Cobain that portrays him as a skinny, long-limbed, naked guitar player with thin hair and swirling eyes. Next to the figure are the words “Kurdt Kobain Rock Star” on one side and “I don’t know how to play and I don’t give a hoot!” on the other. It was drawn on stationary from the TNT Music Centre, which describes itself in the drawing as a musical instrument rental store and rehearsal studio at a shopping mall in Singapore.
SOLD for $281,250! A self-portrait caricature by Kurt Cobain playing the guitar, signed on the left of the drawing “Kurdt Kobain Rock Star” and handwritten on the right “I don’t know how to play and I don’t give a hoot!” Sold now in our Music Icons at https://t.co/TiME89uOXn! pic.twitter.com/jvfHVeyXdQ
— Juliens Auctions (@JuliensAuctions) June 12, 2021
Two other Nevermind-era Nirvana items were sold during the auction. The first was a DOD FX69 guitar distortion effect pedal that Cobain played during a Nirvana show at the San Diego Sports Arena on December 29, 1993, which sold for $16,000. That’s the same price that the other item went for, which was an original handwritten setlist that Cobain made for Nirvana’s show at the Olde Club in Swarthmore, Pennsylvania on April 20, 1990. That was the same month that Nirvana began recording Nevermind, so the setlist included a recently-recorded song called “Imodium,” which was later renamed to “Breed.”
In total, the auction made almost $5 million off of personal property owned by Cobain and other legendary artists including The Beatles, Cher, Lady Gaga, Elton John, Tom Petty, Elvis Presley, Prince, Tupac Shakur, Eddie and Alex Van Halen and more. Notably, a 1994 Andy Beech cloud guitar that Prince had owned was sold for $281,250, the same figure that the Cobain caricature went for. However, the guitar had a higher original estimate at $60,000.
The next highest sale was a Ludwig drum kit custom-designed by Alex Van Halen for $230,400. It was the drum set he used on Van Halen’s 1980 Invasion tour, which had previously been displayed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Meanwhile, his late brother Eddie Van Halen’s five guitars at the auction sold for $210,225 in total. They were also custom-designed, hand-striped and included the last guitar he had ever played with in concert.
One fan won a red Yamaha Elton John Signature Series C-1 Grand Piano for $150,000. It was signed by John and came with a matching glossy red piano bench.
A collector bought Cher’s iconic outfit from her “If I Could Turn Back Time” music video for $115,200. The fit included a black jersey, a netting bodysuit and a black motorcycle jacket. It had been sold by Julien’s Auctions back in 2006 for $60,000 before being returned to the auction stage and resold this weekend.
One other notable sale was a drum kit owned and played by Eric Singer of KISS. It sold for $75,000.