Kurt Cobain's "MTV Unplugged" Martin D-18E Sells for Over $6 Million
The ultra-rare 1959 model smashed the world record, previously held by David Gilmour’s Black Strat, to become the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction.
The legendary 1959 Martin D-18E used by Kurt Cobain for Nirvana's 1993 MTV Unplugged performance has sold at auction for over $6 million.
The ultra-rare acoustic was purchased, with a bid of $6,010,000, by Australian businessman and RØDE Microphones owner Peter Freedman during the Julien's Auctions Music Icons auction held in Beverly Hills, CA last week.
The astonishing sum of money makes it by a wide margin the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction, smashing the previous world record of $3,975,000, set by David Gilmour’s 1969 Black Strat (opens in new tab) last June.
The seventh of only 302 D-18E Martin guitars to be built, the guitar features a Bartolini pickup added by Cobain, and was sold with its original hardshell case - complete with a half-used pack of Martin guitar strings, three picks and Cobain's suede bag, which is decorated with a miniature silver spoon, fork and knife.
For his part, Freedman says that - rather than locking the guitar away - he will exhibit the guitar in galleries and art spaces around the world, putting all of the proceeds towards the performing arts.
“It’s a big deal. I didn’t even buy it for me,” he told (opens in new tab) the PA news agency.
“I paid for it but I’m going to use it to highlight the plight of artists worldwide by touring it around, and then I’m going to sell it and use the dough for that as well, later.
“Musicians and artists have supported my family since the ’60s. We’ve been in that game forever so I’ve been very lucky with RØDE and I’ve been able to give away lots of money, quite a few mill.”
The Martin, rumored to be the last guitar Cobain ever played, had been gifted by (opens in new tab) Cobain's daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, to her ex-husband, Isaiah Silva, during their marriage.
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Jackson is an Associate Editor at GuitarWorld.com and GuitarPlayer.com. He’s been writing and editing stories about new gear, technique and guitar-driven music both old and new since 2014, and has also written extensively on the same topics for Guitar Player. Elsewhere, his album reviews and essays have appeared in Louder and Unrecorded. Though open to music of all kinds, his greatest love has always been indie, and everything that falls under its massive umbrella. To that end, you can find him on Twitter crowing about whatever great new guitar band you need to drop everything to hear right now.