BEVERLY HILLS — Record sales were made after the guitar Kurt Cobain used for Nirvana’s MTV “Unplugged” performance sold for over $6 million during a Beverly Hills auction on Saturday, June, 20, becoming the most expensive guitar ever sold.
The guitar is a 1959 Martin D-18 E that Cobain used to play songs such as “About a Girl” and “All Apologies” on the set at Sony Music Studios in New York City. Five months following Nirvana’s MTV performance, Cobain passed away at the age of 27 by suicide.
Nirvana’s “Unplugged” live acoustic set that night in 1993 debuted as the No. 1 song on Billboard and is generally recognized as one of the greatest live albums ever performed. The performance would go on to win the Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance in 1996 and earn multi-platinum recognition.
Cobain originally bought the guitar in Los Angeles from Voltage Guitars and was personally customized along with the case by the singer himself. The case as well as three Dunlop guitar picks, a partial set of Martin and Co. guitar strings and other accessories were included in the auction set.
The bidding started at $1 million for the guitar and was only bid on seven times before Peter Freedman, owner of RODE Microphones, took claim of the prize. The auction was conducted as part of a “Music Icon” sale that was hosted by Julien’s Auctions.
In the same auction, a custom guitar used by Prince sold for $563,500. A belt worn by Elvis had a final bid of $2,298,000, and an ivory gown worn by Madonna in her “Vogue” video in 1990 went for $179,200.