What’s the price of rock and roll history? It depends on the item and the artist, but the market was just set well over nine figures.
Kurt Cobain’s guitar from Nirvana’s iconic MTV Unplugged performance was just sold at auction for $6.01 million. The sale set five new world records: Most Expensive Guitar, Most Expensive Memorabilia, World’s Most Expensive Acoustic Guitar, World’s Most Expensive Martin Guitar, and World’s Most Expensive Nirvana Memorabilia Sold At Auction.
The guitar was bought by RØDE microphone founder Peter Freedman at the auction in Beverly Hills, CA. Freedman plans on displaying the guitar in a worldwide tour of exhibitions held in galleries and art spaces. All proceeds will go towards the performing arts.
Aside from the 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic-electric guitar, Martin’s winning bid included the original hard-shell case Cobain decorated with a flyer from the punk band Poison Idea’s 1990 album Feel the Darkness, three baggage claim ticket stubs along with an Alaska Airlines sticker, and the contents of the case’s storage compartment featuring guitar picks, strings, and more.
“When I heard that this iconic guitar was up for auction I immediately knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure it and use it as a vehicle to spotlight the struggles that those in the performing arts are facing and have always faced,” Freedman said in a statement.
"For most, access to financial and health services - particularly mental health services - is very limited. While many industries are gradually returning to normal, it's going to take a long time before this industry can begin functioning as it was. The toll this has taken and will continue to take is enormous and requires more than just lip service. It requires action now, and I am a man of action."
Cobain’s instrument wasn’t the only high-profile sale at the auction, as Prince’s “Blue Angel” Cloud 2 electric guitar sold for $563,000 at the auction.
The 1984 custom-made guitar was the same one Prince used during his Purple Rain, Parade, Sign O’ the Times, and Lovesexy tours. While the guitar fetched a high bid, it didn’t break the record for the most expensive Prince guitar as a green model of his Cloud design went for $700,000 in 2019.