Kurt Cobain’s Iconic 'MTV Unplugged' Guitar Sells for $6 Million

The late Nirvana frontman's 1959 Martin D-18E set a record for most expensive acoustic guitar ever sold at auction.
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Kurt Cobain on "MTV Unplugged"

Kurt Cobain on "MTV Unplugged"

In a record-breaking auction held by Julien's, Kurt Cobain's great 1959 Martin D-18E guitar netted an astonishing $6 million. This eclipsed a record previously held by a nearly $4 million sale of a guitar once owned by David Gilmour of Pink Floyd fame. 

The Nirvana singer's instrument, modded for a left-handed player, was already netting bids in the $1 million range. It took just seven bids all told to reach the winner, which was $6,010,000. 

Winner Peter Freedman, Founder of RØDE Microphones, also got Cobain's original case, a half-empty pack of guitar strings, picks, and a suede bag. 

Julien's Auctions gave an excellent description of this guitar's place in the history of rock:

Perhaps the most important decision Cobain made for his MTV Unplugged performance was the "brush" he chose to paint the self-portrait that would ultimately be recognized as his greatest work.

The "brush" chosen by Cobain was his 1959 Martin D-18E guitar, and it was the only guitar he used throughout the entire MTV Unplugged performance. Cobain purchased this guitar and its vintage hardshell case at Voltage Guitars in Los Angeles. Both the guitar and its case were personally customized, by Cobain, prior to his MTV appearance.

Auction winner Freedman was quoted by Julien's as saying he "immediately knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure" the guitar "and use it as a vehicle to spotlight the struggles that those in the performing arts are facing and have always faced."

In the past Julien's also sold the green sweater Cobain wore at that performance, netting $334,000. 

The auction as a whole—which is now complete—was titled "Music Icons" and also featured items from Steely Dan, The Grateful Dead, and Bob Dylan.