Kurt Cobain's MTV Unplugged guitar breaks auction records with $6 million sale
Kurt Cobain's iconic MTV Unplugged in New York album with Nirvana, became all the more significant when just five months after the set, the musician took his own life.
The 1959 Martin D-18E guitar he played during the performance has since become a coveted item and the subject of a lengthy court battle. Now it has shattered records. Julien's Auctions put the instrument up for purchase as part of their two-day Music Icons auction on Saturday and saw it go for a whopping $6,010,000.
The purchaser Peter Freedman, a businessman from Australia, set multiple records with the acquisition. He now is the owner of the Most Expensive Guitar, Most Expensive Memorabilia, World's Most Expensive Acoustic Guitar, and World's Most Expensive Nirvana Memorabilia Sold at Auction.
The purchase is controversial since Cobain's widow Courtney Love and their only child, Frances Bean Cobain, hoped to recoup the historic music item after losing it to Frances' ex-husband in a tumultuous split. Silva claimed during proceedings that Frances Bean promised him the guitar as a wedding gift, something she's always denied.
In 2016, the guitar was caught up in an alleged kidnapping and extortion plot that saw Love's then-manager Sam Lufti, actor Ross Butler (who denies he was involved), and private investigator John Nazarian accused of breaking into Silva's residence and kidnapping/assaulting/harassing him to return to guitar and stop fighting for it during divorce proceedings.
Isaiah Silva was awarded the guitar in May 2018 as part of their settlement six months after their divorce was finalized. Love filed a restraining order against Lufti shortly after Silva filed his lawsuit in December of that year for verbal harassment and threats against her and her family which was granted.
Love and her daughter attempted to regain ownership of the guitar in July to no avail, giving the auction the greenlight.
A release from the auction house explains Freedman plans to "display the guitar in a worldwide tour of exhibitions to be held in distinguished galleries and art spaces, with all proceeds (including the guitar) going to the performing arts."