Kurt Cobain′s MTV Unplugged guitar expected to break records at auction | Music | DW | 19.06.2020
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Music

Kurt Cobain's MTV Unplugged guitar expected to break records at auction

The Martin D-18E guitar Kurt Cobain played for his legendary MTV Unplugged performance with Nirvana in 1993 is up for sale. Bids of $1 million have already been placed ahead of the auction.

Californian auction house Julien's Auctions is holding its annual "Music Icons" auction on June 19 and 20 in Beverly Hills, which will culminate on Saturday with the sale of the guitar Kurt Cobain played during his best-known Nirvana performance, a live recording for the MTV Unplugged series on November 18, 1993, five months before the singer-songwriter's death.

The acoustic performance was also released as the best-selling live album, MTV Unplugged in New York. It featured lesser-known Nirvana material and different covers of songs, including David Bowie's "The Man Who Sold the World," and Lead Belly's "Where Did You Sleep Last Night." Ranked as one of the greatest albums of all time, it won the Grammy Award for best alternative music album in 1996. 

Customized to be played left-handed

The 1959 Martin D-18E was the only guitar the Nirvana singer played throughout the MTV Unplugged performance.

The model was already a collector's item at the time, as only 302 of them were built and Cobain's instrument was number 7 in the limited series, according to the auction house. Cobain had bought the guitar for $5,000 and had it personally customized ahead of his MTV appearance, so it could be played left-handed.

The lot also includes the hard-shell guitar case with a sticker for the band Poison Idea's 1990 album, Feel the Darkness and different baggage-claim stubs. In the case are various accessories, including a half-used pack of Martin guitar strings, three picks and a "stash" bag.

Julien's Auction co-owner Martin Nolan said in a YouTube video released on Thursday ahead of the auction that he already had bidders who were ready to pay $1 million (€890,000) for the legendary instrument.  

Prince's Blue Angel and Madonna's 'Vogue' dress also up for sale

The "Music Icons" auction includes hundreds of lots of with various other Nirvana-related items, as well as Elvis , The Beatles memorabilia — and many more.

Friday's auction highlight is Prince's Blue Angel guitar, once thought to be lost. Madonna's ivory satin gown worn in her 1990 "Vogue" music video is also up for auction.

Last October, the grungy cardigan Cobain wore during the Unplugged performance sold at Julien's Auctions for a record $334,000.

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