The Guitar Kurt Cobain Played During Nirvana’s ‘MTV Unplugged’ is Going Up for Auction for an Estimated $1 Million

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Julien’s Auctions recently announced an upcoming auction titled Music Icons, a collection of memorabilia and artifacts from a dizzying array of music legends past and present — and one of the marquee items up for auction will be the acoustic guitar played by Kurt Cobain during Nirvana‘s MTV Unplugged performance.

As far as Unplugged performances are concerned, Nirvana’s ranks among the most beloved — and its place in the Nirvana timeline, just months before Cobain’s death in April 1994 — heightens its importance to the legacy of Cobain and his intensely personal music.

The guitar, a 1959 Martin D-18E, will go up for auction in the lot with an estimated starting point of $1 million … so this one’s for a real collector, obviously. Per Rolling Stone, the guitar comes in the original guitar case, “adorned with a flyer for the band Poison Idea’s 1990 album, Feel the Darkness. (The case is also stamped with three baggage-claim ticket stubs and an Alaska Airlines sticker.) Inside the case is a half-used pack of Martin guitar strings, three picks, and a “suede ‘stash’ bag” that’s decorated with a small silver spoon, fork, and knife.”

Said Julien’s president/CEO Darren Julien:

“This important guitar has earned its rightful place in rock & roll 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,”

Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance was a key moment in the band’s career. Musically, Cobain, Dave Grohl, Krist Novoselic and Pat Smear delivered a distinctively defiant selection of songs, opting not to play obvious/expected Nirvana hits like “In Bloom,” “Lithium” and “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” instead opting for covers and tributes to the likes of David Bowie, Leadbelly and the Meat Puppets, in addition to a few deeper cuts from Nirvana’s handful of albums.

Julien’s Auctions’ Music Icons 2020 lot will go live this Friday, May 15 — for more details, click here. 

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