12 May 2020
Kurt Cobain‘s ‘MTV Unplugged’ guitar is to be sold at auction.
The iconic 1959 Martin D-18E – which Cobain’s daughter Frances Bean Cobain lost ownership of in the divorce battle with her former husband Isaiah Silva – was used by Cobain during Nirvana’s iconic 1993 performance and is set to go under the hammer as part of the ‘Music Icons’ sale at Julien’s Auction next month, with a starting estimate of $1 million.
Darren Julien, president and CEO of the auction house, said in a statement: “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.”
The guitar will be sold with its original hard-shell case that Kurt had decorated with a flyer for Poison Idea’s 1990 album, ‘Feel the Darkness’. It also includes a half-used pack of Martin guitar strings, three picks, and a suede stash bag.
Other Nirvana items to go under the hammer at the auction will include a smashed Fender Strat the late singer used during the 1994 ‘In Utero’ tour, the silver shirt he wore in the ‘Heart-Shaped Box’ music video, a typed set list from the ‘Unplugged concert’, and lyric sheets for ‘Plateau,’ ‘The Man Who Sold the World,’ and ‘Lake of Fire’.
Frances lost ownership of the guitar to Isaiah in their divorce battle in 2018 after he claimed she gave it to him as a wedding gift when they tied the knot in 2014.
Sources told TMZ at the time that the visual artist eventually gave up fighting for the instrument, as “she wanted Isaiah out of her life for good, and didn’t want the mess of a trial to bog her down”.
The loss of her father’s guitar came after Frances said she hoped the ‘In Bloom’ singer – who took his own life in 1994 – would be proud of the person she has become.
When asked by if she believes her late father would like her musical ventures, Frances said: “I don’t have an answer for that because I don’t want to speak on someone else’s behalf. I would hope that he would be proud of the human being I am even if he didn’t like the art I am putting out. That’s all I would ask of anyone in my life.”