The rare guitar used by Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain during his band’s infamous 1993 MTV “Unplugged” performance has sold for a record-breaking $6 million at auction. The 1959 D-18E Martin guitar broke a previous record for guitars sold at auction set last year by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour with his 1969 Black Fender Stratocaster, which went for $3,975,000.
Julien's Auctions sold the guitar to Australian businessman Peter Freedman, owner of Røde Microphones.
Freedman also received the original hardshell case, a Poison Idea Feel the Darkness sticker, a few baggage claim stubs, three Dunlop guitar picks, a partial set of guitar strings, and a black velvet pouch containing a number of lapel pins.
“When I heard that this iconic guitar was up for auction, I immediately knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure it and use it as a vehicle to spotlight the struggles that those in the performing arts are facing and have always faced,” Freedman said in a statement to Juliens.
The acoustic guitar used by the Nirvana frontman was initially expected to sell for over $1 million at auction.
“This important guitar has earned its rightful place in rock & roll history as the instrument played by one of rock’s most influential musicians and icons in one of the greatest and most memorable live performances of all time,” Julien’s CEO Darren Julien said in a statement.
In November 1993, Nirvana taped what would be their final television concert together, playing MTV’s coveted and well-respected series “Unplugged.” The concert was hailed by critics as one of the best television performances of all time.
But their relentless touring and recording schedule took its toll on Cobain. Cobain overdosed on heroin in July 1993 in New York City. Months later, in March 1994, Cobain would overdose again in Rome after mixing Champagne and the powerful sedative Rohyphnol.
When he and wife, Courtney Love, returned to Seattle days after his overdose, his wife told police that her husband was suicidal. Authorities later confiscated his guns and medication.
On April 8, 1994, Cobain’s body was discovered by an electrician who had an appointment to install a security system in the singer’s home. He was found dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Cobain left a note behind and toxicology reports said that he had high levels of heroin and traces of the anti-anxiety medication diazepam in his body.
He was just 27 years old. His body was cremated and spread in the Wishkah River, under which he had once lived. “Nirvana: MTV Unplugged in New York" reached No.1 soon after its release in November 1994, nearly a year after it was initially recorded.