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Cobain’s Guitar Rocks Estimate

June 27, 2020

About nine months ago, I wrote about a grungy old sweater worn by Kurt Cobain during a performance in 1993 on ‘MTV Unplugged in New York,’ which made a really incredible price when it sold for $334K; now another item belonging to Cobain has made auction history. Cobain’s 1959 Martin D-18E guitar that he used during the MTV Unplugged performance, along with the guitar case (which has a poster of the Punk Rock band Poison Idea’s album ‘Feel the Darkness’ on it), several guitar strings, picks and a ‘stash bag’, set a record for the most expensive guitar at auction.

Kurt Cobain 1959 Martin D-18E Guitar

Kurt Cobain 1959 Martin D-18E Guitar

The previous record was set just about a year ago in June 2019, when a Fender Stratocaster used by David Gilmore, the guitarist for Pink Floyd, sold at a charity auction for $3.95M.  Cobain’s guitar was estimated to make $1 – 2M, but quickly rocked past that when, after just seven bids, it sold for $5M ($6.01M w/p) to Australian business Peter Freedman, the founder of RODE Microphones.  Freedman will create exhibitions, including this guitar,  that will go on tour to galleries and art spaces around the world.  According to Freedman, “I’m going to use this to tour it around the world to lobby governments to start proper funding for mental health, medical, wages lost, all the stuff that’s gone.”  His efforts are to raise awareness of the difficulties that workers, performers, and artists are dealing with during the coronavirus pandemic. The performing arts industry may be one of the last to come back to some sense of normalcy.