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Generation X icon and Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain's unplugged guitar to garner $1 mn at auction

May 12, 2020 | 15:33

The acoustic guitar Kurt Cobain played for Nirvana's November 1993 MTV Unplugged session, just five months before his death, is expected to fetch around $1million at auction in June.

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The Nirvana frontman recorded the Unplugged session in November 1993. He was found dead, aged 27, of a self-inflicted gunshot wound in his Seattle home in April 1994.

Julien’s Chief Executive Darren Julien said the guitar “has earned its rightful place in 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.”

generation x icon and nirvana frontman kurt cobains unplugged guitar to garner 1 mn at auction
Kurt Cobain with his acoustic guitar during the MTV Unplugged session. Twitter

Kurt Cobain’s cardigan sold for a record $334,000 last year. Now the acoustic guitar the punk rocker played for Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged session, just five months before his death, is expected to fetch around $1 million at auction in June, reported the reuters.

Julien’s Auctions said on Monday the 1959 Martin D-18E guitar comes with a battered case, which includes a storage compartment containing a small suede bag where the musician is said to have stashed the heroin he was addicted to in the lead-up to his death from a self-inflicted gunshot wound at home in Seattle, Washington.

generation x icon and nirvana frontman kurt cobains unplugged guitar to garner 1 mn at auction
The 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic guitar Kurt Cobain played for Nirvana's November 1993 MTV Unplugged session is expected to fetch around $1million at auction in June

An image released by Julien's Auctions Monday showed the bag decorated in a mini knife, fork, spoon.

The case - which is decorated with a flyer from Poison Idea’s 1990 album Feel the Darkness, an Alaska airlines sticker and three airline ticket stubs - will be placed on public display at the Hard Rock Cafe in London's Piccadilly Circus from May 15.

It will then move to Julien's Auctions gallery in Beverly Hills from June 15-19 before the auction June 19 and 20. Bids can also be made on the Julien's website.

generation x icon and nirvana frontman kurt cobains unplugged guitar to garner 1 mn at auction
The guitar comes with a battered case featuring an Alaska Airlines sticker, luggage tags, and a flyer from Poison Idea’s 1990 album Feel the Darkness (left). It also comes with Dunlop guitar picks and has a storage compartment containing a small suede bag where the musician is said to have stashed heroin (right)

The guitar is one of only 302 made and was customized by Cobain, who added a Bartolini pickup to the soundhole after he bought it from Voltage Guitar in Los Angeles.

The guitar also comes with three Dunlop guitar picks and a partial set of Martin guitar strings.

generation x icon and nirvana frontman kurt cobains unplugged guitar to garner 1 mn at auction
The guitar was customized by Cobain who added a Bartolini pickup to the soundhole

The album MTV Unplugged in New York, featuring acoustic versions of tracks like About a Girl, All Apologies and a cover version of David Bowie's The Man Who Sold the World, was released after Cobain's death, topped the Billboard charts, and won a Grammy.

It's considered one of the top 10 live albums of all time, said the dailymail.co.uk

generation x icon and nirvana frontman kurt cobains unplugged guitar to garner 1 mn at auction
The auction listing recalls the performance and how Cobain - who was known for smashing guitars on stage - 'placed the guitar carefully back on its stand - almost as a stand-in for himself - and left it center stage as he walked away'
generation x icon and nirvana frontman kurt cobains unplugged guitar to garner 1 mn at auction
In May 2018 it was reported that Cobain's daughter Frances Bean (left) gave the guitar to her ex-husband Isaiah Silva (right) as part of their divorce settlement. All the items come from various people who worked with Cobain or were associated with his family, Julien's said
generation x icon and nirvana frontman kurt cobains unplugged guitar to garner 1 mn at auction
The olive green cardigan worn by Cobain for the session sold for $334,000 at auction in October 2019 in what Julien's said was a world record for a cardigan

The auction listing recalls the performance and how Cobain - who was known for smashing guitars on stage - 'held his Martin D-18E guitar with reverence'.

'Ultimately, he placed the guitar carefully back on its stand - almost as a stand-in for himself - and left it center stage as he walked away,' Julien's says on its website about the iconic moment before Cobain's death at 27.

Julien's Chief Executive Darren Julien said the guitar 'has earned its rightful place in 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.'

In May 2018, TMZ reported that Cobain's daughter with Courtney Love, Frances Bean, gave the guitar to her ex-husband as part of their divorce settlement.

The publication reported that on the condition Isaiah Silva and the mother of his child move out of their marital home and he gets the guitar, Frances Bean would not have to pay the $25,000 per month spousal support he was demanding or his legal fees.

All the items come from various people who worked with Cobain or were associated with his family, Julien's said.

The olive green cardigan worn by Cobain for the session sold for $334,000 at auction in October 2019 in what Julien's said was a world record for a cardigan.

The world record for a guitar was set in June 2019 when Pink Floyd musician David Gilmour's black Fender Stratocaster sold for $3.9 million at auction in New York

Other Cobain items up in the June 19-20 auction in Beverly Hills will include a Fender Stratocaster guitar he used on Nirvana's 1994 In Utero tour (estimated at $60,000-$80,000), a metallic silver lame shirt worn for the 1993 music video for 'Heart-Shaped Box' ($10,000-$20,000) and the typed set list he used for the MTV session ($4,000-$6,000).

The $1 million expected for the guitar is just a starting estimate, Julien’s said. The world record for a guitar was set in June 2019 when Pink Floyd musician David Gilmour’s black Fender Stratocaster sold for $3.9 million at auction in New York.

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