Kurt Cobain’s Unplugged Guitar Is Up For Auction Today
The green cardigan that Kurt Cobain wore during Nirvana’s iconic MTV Unplugged concert in 1993 sold for a record $334,000 at auction last year. (It also went under the hammer in 2015, when it sold for a mere $140,800.) And now the guitar that Cobain played in that same concert is also up for auction on Julien’s Auctions.
The 1959 Martin D-18E guitar comes with the original hard-shell case that Cobain decorated with a flyer for Poison Idea’s 1990 album Feel The Darkness, two Alaska Airlines fragile stickers, and three baggage claim ticket stubs. Three Dunlop 60mm guitar picks, a partial set of Martin & Co. Phospher Bronze guitar strings, and a small black velvet pouch containing knife, fork, and spoon lapel pins also are included in the case compartment.
The guitar started at $250,000 and is expected to sell for $1-2 million. The auction doesn’t officially begin until noon ET today, but after four bids, the bidding is already up to $1 million. Other Unplugged memorabilia is also for sale, like used lyrics sheets (handwritten and typed) and the original setlist. More Nirvana lots are also featured in Julien’s Auctions’ Music Icons sale today and tomorrow.
The Unplugged guitar has been the center of a prolonged legal battle over the last few years. When Cobain’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, divorced her ex-husband Isaiah Silva in 2016, he had the guitar in his possession and refused to give it back, claiming that she gave it to him as a gift. She said it was a “priceless family heirloom” and tried to get a judge to force him to return it. In 2018, they reached a divorce settlement in which Silva got to keep the guitar; he then sued Courtney Love for trying to have him killed in a plot that allegedly included Riverdale and 13 Reasons Why actor Ross Butler. It is unclear if Silva is the anonymous seller behind the auction.