Kurt Cobain's MTV Unplugged Guitar Sells For Record $6 Million

One of the most coveted gems in the grunge era sold for an unprecedented $6 million at auction. Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain used the 1959 Martin D-18E guitar during the band's acoustic performance on MTV Unplugged on November 18, 1993. Five months following the episode, the singer-songwriter took his own life from a self-inflicted gunshot at the age of 27. Their Unplugged appearance was released as a live album. The guitar was sold to Australian Peter Freedman, owner of Røde Microphones, at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills, California. Cobain played "About A Girl" from their debut album Bleach and "All Apologies" from their final studio album In Utero.

LOS ANGELES - SEP 2: Nirvana, Frances Bean Cobain, Kurt Cobain at the 10th Annual MTV Video Music Awards at the Universal Ampitheater on September 2, 1993 in Los Angeles, CA (Image: Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock.com)
LOS ANGELES – SEP 2: Nirvana, Frances Bean Cobain, Kurt Cobain at the 10th Annual MTV Video Music Awards at the Universal Ampitheater on September 2, 1993 in Los Angeles, CA (Image: Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock.com)

How the Nirvana Frontman's Guitar Compared to Other Auction Items

By comparison, a custom blue guitar used by Prince at the height of his stardom in the 80s and 90s including his 1984 Purple Rain tour sold for $563,500. Cobain's guitar was originally slated to sell in the range of $100,000-$200,000. The band scored 10 top 40 hits on the Billboard Alternative Songs chart, including five No. 1s and four No. 1 albums on the Billboard 200. They also won several Grammys, American Music Awards, and MTV Music Video Awards. Four of Nirvana's songs ("All Apologies", "Come As You Are", "In Bloom", and "Smells Like Teen Spirit") reached Rolling Stone's "The 500 Greatest Songs of All Time." In addition to In Utero and Unplugged, the band's most successful album Nevermind reached the publication's "500 Greatest Albums of All Time." Cobain and bassist Krist Novoselic founded Nirvana in 1987 with Aaron Burckhard on drums. The following year, Burckhard left and the band went through multiple drummers until 1990 when they settled on Dave Grohl. That lineup with guitarist Pat Smear was the one inducted into the Rock N' Roll Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility in 2014 with Cobain's widow Courtney Love there to accept on her husband's behalf.

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About Tom Chang

I'm a follower of pop culture from gaming, comics, sci-fi, fantasy, film, and TV for over 30 years. I grew up reading magazines like Starlog, Mad, and Fangora. As a professional writer for over 10 years, Star Wars was the first sci-fi franchise I fell in love with. I'm a nerd-of-all-trades.
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