Kurt Cobain’s Guitar Auctioned for Over $4 Million: Sum of it Donated to Mental Health Awareness

Kurt Cobain’s Guitar Auctioned for Over $4 Million: Sum of it Donated to Mental Health Awareness

On May 22nd, Nirvana’s legendary artist Kurt Cobain’s 1969 Fender Mustang electric guitar was auctioned off at Julien’s Auctions for nearly $5 million. It is the same guitar used by the late star in his music video “Smells Like Teen Spirit”.

In a bidding war among the collectors, which included bidders from all over the globe through online and over-the-phone auctions, Jim Irsay Collection of Indianapolis managed to get his hands on the famous guitar. It was sold for approximately $4.5 million, surpassing its original estimate of $600,000 by a huge margin.

He expressed his excitement: 

The 1969 Fender Mustang is for left-handers, featuring a competition lake placid blue finish with matching headstock. It was one of Cobain’s most favorite go-to guitars. In Cobain’s final interview with Guitar World, he said:

I’m left-handed, and it’s not very easy to find reasonably priced, high-quality left-handed guitars. But out of all the guitars in the whole world, the Fender Mustang is my favorite. I’ve only owned two of them.

This guitar was used during the recordings of Nevermind and In Utero in the studio. It was also featured on stage for numerous live performances. Seattle’s Experience Music Project (renamed: MoPOP Museum of Pop Culture) had the honor of housing this guitar so far. Eventually, it was photographed and selected for the “Guitar Collection.”

To support the Mental Health Awareness Month, the Cobain family will be donating a portion of the proceeds from the guitar sale, and a few other selected Cobain items to Kicking The Stigma — the Irsays’ initiative in order to raise awareness about mental health and getting rid of the stigma associated with these illnesses. 

Irsay stated:

I am thrilled to preserve and protect another piece of American culture that changed the way we looked at world. The fact that a portion of the proceeds will go toward our effort to kick the stigma surrounding mental health makes this acquisition even more special to me.

Previously, in lieu of the mental health awareness month, pop-star icon Selena Gomez also spoke about her personal journey regarding mental health at a forum in the White House and encouraged people to seek help whenever they’re in need.

President and CEO of Julien’s Auctions, Darren Julien, said it was an absolute honor for him 

To have this legendary guitar, one of the most culturally significant and historically important guitars of Kurt Cobain and in all of rock music history return to my home state of Indiana to be part of Jim Irsay’s renowned memorabilia collection is a great honor and personal highlight of my life. This once-in-a-lifetime auction has been one of the greatest privileges in my professional career and I’m duly pleased that the proceeds will also bring much needed attention to mental health awareness.

In 1991, Nirvana’s hit single “Smells Like Teen Spirit” took the music world by storm. The band itself didn’t fathom the kind of cosmic change they had brought into the world of music. Specifically, they didn’t expect it’d cause a shift and present itself as an alternative to the grunge era of the 90s. It eventually went on to become one of the most iconic music videos and songs of all time. 

Fans around the world are still huge fans of the band Nirvana and the glorious songs they shared with the rest of the world. 

Other Cobain items that were sold included a car owned by Kim Cobain, Kurt’s sister, for the last 28 years, a 1965 “Baby Blue” Dodge Dart 170 4-door sedan. The Dodge was the only surviving car that was in Kurt’s possession and which he drove. It was sold for approximately $375,000.
The list also includes Cobain’s original artwork of Michael Jackson plus NFT accompanying the physical item sold for $87,500 and his personally drawn 1985 Iron Maiden “Killers” skateboard deck artwork featuring the Iron Maiden mascot “Eddie” also sold with an added NFT for $35,200.

In 2020, Julien’s Auctions also had the pleasure of selling Cobain’s “MTV Unplugged” 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic-electric guitar. It was auctioned off for $6 million – making it one of the most expensive guitars ever sold at an auction. 

Julien’s has continuously broken records through their sales while selling off Cobain memorabilia items. Here are a few more: Cobain’s cardigan worn on MTV Unplugged in New York, which sold for a record $334,000; his “In Utero” tour Fender Mustang guitar, which sold for $340,000; a self-portrait caricature drawing by Cobain of himself playing the guitar signed “Kurdt Kobain Rock Star”, sold for over $281,000, his cardigan worn on his last photoshoot which sold for $75,000 and a Nirvana paper plate set list written in Cobain’s handwriting which sold for a record $22,400.

At the Julien’s Auctions’ Music Icons event that took place over the weekend at the Hard Rock Café in New York, over 1,300 items were sold, which gathered a total of nearly $15,000,000. More than 100 lots featured signature instruments, guitars, gear, wardrobe, and memorabilia owned and used by legendary music icons. Most of the auctioned-off donations surpassed the original estimates.

Other items sold at the auction included: Madonna’s pink Marilyn Monroe inspired gown and accessories worn in the 1984 “Material Girl” music video for $287,500; Johnny Cash’s 1956 Martin brand, model D-21 acoustic guitar, which sold for an astounding $437,500; a custom Fender Telecaster belonging to Waylon Jennings sold for $179,200; Bruce Springsteen’s handwritten lyrics to “Born to Run” which sold for $44,800 and a bunch of other items.

Let us know in the comment section below if you’re someone who’s heavily invested in collecting iconic rock n roll merchandise owned by legends.

Jane Davies

Jane Davies

An entertainment enthusiast located in Austin. She is a tech geek, movie fan, and a dedicated binge-watcher. She is someone who enjoys keeping up with the current events and entertainment gossips.


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