Kurt Cobain’s Guitar From MTV Unplugged Just Sold For Record-Breaking Figure

by : Lucy Connolly on : 21 Jun 2020 09:49
kurt cobain's guitar breaks record 1kurt cobain's guitar breaks record 1Nirvana/YouTube

Kurt Cobain’s iconic MTV Unplugged guitar has just broken the record for the most expensive guitar ever sold.

The guitar, a 1959 Martin D-18E, was used in Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance in November 1993, five months before Cobain’s death at the age of 27.

It was auctioned off as part of the ‘Music Icons’ sale at Julien’s Auctions between June 19 and June 20, and was originally expected to sell for somewhere between $1 and $2 million – but bidding had reached the $1 million mark even before the auction’s official opening.

NirvanaNirvanaPA Images

The guitar eventually sold for just over $6 million at auction (approximately £4.8 million), with the winning bid of $6,010,000 made by Peter Freedman, the founder of RØDE Microphones.

So what does Freedman plan to do with the record-breaking guitar now he’s got his hands on it? Well, he wants to display the instrument in a worldwide exhibition tour, taking it to galleries and art spaces with proceeds going to help struggling artists.

He told the PA news agency he was ‘scared shitless and shaking’ when the auctioneer’s gavel dropped, but he is proud to be able to use the guitar to support artists and is already thinking of what to do with it next.


The RØDE Microphones founder described it as a ‘big deal’, adding: ‘I didn’t even buy it for me. I paid for it but I’m going to use it to highlight the plight of artists worldwide by touring it around and then I’m going to sell it and use the dough for that as well, later.’

Kurt Cobain's guitarKurt Cobain's guitarPA Images

Julien’s Auctions said the sale set five world records, including most expensive guitar and most expensive piece of memorabilia.

When the auction was first announced in May, the auction house CEO Darren Julien said, as per NME:


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.

The guitar was sold with its original hard-case which had been decorated by Cobain, stamped with a flyer for Poison Idea’s 1990 album Feel The Darkness. It even contained a half-used pack of guitar strings, picks and a suede ‘stash’ bag.

kurt cobain guitar mtvkurt cobain guitar mtvNirvana/YouTube

Other Nirvana relics that were also on sale at the auction included the t-shirt Cobain wore in Nirvana’s music video for Heart-Shaped Box and the setlist from the MTV Unplugged performance.


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Lucy Connolly

A Broadcast Journalism Masters graduate who went on to achieve an NCTJ level 3 Diploma in Journalism, Lucy has done stints at ITV, BBC Inside Out and Key 103. While working as a journalist for UNILAD, Lucy has reported on breaking news stories while also writing features about mental health, cervical screening awareness, and Little Mix (who she is unapologetically obsessed with).

Topics: Music, Auction, guitar, kurt cobain, Money, MTV Unplugged, nirvana, Now, Sound


The Guardian and 1 other
  1. The Guardian

    Kurt Cobain ‘MTV Unplugged in New York’ guitar sells for $6m

  2. NME

    Kurt Cobain’s ‘MTV Unplugged’ guitar sells for record-breaking $6million