Kurt Cobain's MTV Unplugged Guitar Is Headed to Auction
On November 18, 1993, the members of Nirvana assembled beneath a chandelier on a flower-strewn stage and performed an acoustic set in front of a small, captivated audience at Sony Music Studios in New York.
MTV Unplugged in New York was the Seattle band’s most intimate, stripped-down concert on record. In addition to “About a Girl,” “Come As You Are,” and other Nirvana originals, Kurt Cobain and the rest of the crew performed some unexpected covers, like David Bowie's “The Man Who Sold the World,” and The Vaselines’ “Jesus Doesn’t Want Me for a Sunbeam.” It was a chance for established fans to see a softer side of Cobain, and a chance for skeptics to realize there was much more to Nirvana (and other grunge bands) than the unbridled angst of youth. The concert album was released several months after Cobain’s death in April 1994, and quickly went on to become one of the most acclaimed live albums of all time.
Now, Nirvana superfans have the opportunity to take home the most important prop from the concert—Cobain’s 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic-electric guitar. Julien’s Auctions is selling the instrument as part of its “Music Icons” auction in Beverly Hills from June 19 to June 20, 2020. The guitar also comes with a few other items: Cobain’s hard-shell guitar case, decorated with a flyer from Poison Idea’s 1990 album Feel the Darkness, baggage claim stubs, and an Alaska Airlines sticker; a partially-used pack of Martin guitar strings; three guitar picks; and a marijuana stash bag. The starting bid for the items is estimated at $1 million.
If you’re eager to own a piece of Cobain’s legacy but not able to shell out such a high sum, there are some alternate options available in the auction, including a button-down shirt he wore in the 1993 music video for “Heart-Shaped Box,” valued somewhere between $10,000 and $20,000; a set list from the MTV Unplugged in New York performance that could cost you around $4000, and a Bleach CD cover signed “Kurdt” and scrawled with drawings by Cobain himself.
You can bid on the items at the in-person auction or online through Julien’s Live—find out more here.