Kurt Cobain’s guitar from Nirvana’s iconic MTV Unplugged performance sold at auction Saturday (June 20th) for a record $6 million. The previous record was $3.95 million for a Black Stratocaster owned by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.
Pre-auction bids on the 1959 Martin D-18E reached $1 million even before bidding officially opened Saturday at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills. The guitar, which had been modified for the left-handed Cobain, received seven bids total, including the winning one.
The guitar also came with its original hard-shell case, a half-used pack of Martin guitar strings, three picks, and a “suede ‘stash’ bag” decorated with a small silver spoon, fork, and knife.
The winner of the guitar was Peter Freedman, who told Spin after the auction that he intended to tour the guitar around the world "to lobby governments to start proper funding for mental health, medical, wages lost, all the stuff that’s gone. This is my life. This is my industry. We’re going to raise awareness and raise money.”
Other Nirvana MTV Unplugged performance items included in the same Julien’s Auctions lot included Curt Kirkwood’s handwritten lyric sheet to the Meat Puppets’ “Oh, Me,” a typed setlist from the gig, typed-out lyrics for David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” and Meat Puppets’ “Lake of Fire,” and a letter to Cobain from Nirvana’s management company, dated nine days before the Unplugged performance, outlining potential songs for the gig.
ALSO SELLING AT THE AUCTION
Among the other high profile instruments sold at the auction was Prince's famed "Blue Angel" Cloud 2 electric guitar, which snagged a cool $563,000 — beating the pre-auction estimate. The instrument, which featured his "love" symbol on it's neck, was introduced onstage during the 1984 tour behind Purple Rain, and played on such albums as 1987's Sign O’ The Times, 1988's Lovesexy, and was used onstage until the early-1990's.
The guitar, which was long thought to have been lost or stolen, was discovered by archivists at his Paisley Park studios. Back in 2016, another of Prince's cloud guitars had fetched $700,000 at auction.
Other notable items at the auction were, "a macrame belt that Elvis Presley wore about 30 times on stage brought in nearly 10 times its expected price, with a final bid of $298,000," and an ivory gown worn by Madonna during the 1990 “Vogue” video shoot which raked in $179,200.
Among the items still to be sold during the auction was Paul McCartney’s 1969 handwritten lyrics to the Beatles' Abbey Road classic, "Maxwell’s Silver Hammer."