The D-18E guitar will also come with the original hard-shell case, half a pack of guitar strings, three picks, and a suede "stash" bag

By Georgia Slater
May 12, 2020 11:55 AM
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Kurt Cobain's rare guitar that he played during Nirvana's performance on MTV Unplugged in 1993 will soon be up for auction with an estimated selling price of at least $1 million.

The 1959 D-18E guitar will be available for bidding during Julien’s Auctions' upcoming "Music Icons" event taking place both online and live in Beverly Hills on June 19 and 20, according to a press release.

For Nirvana fans, the iconic piece holds a great deal of sentiment — the band's legendary MTV Unplugged live taping at Sony Music Studios in New York City marked one of Cobain's last performances ever. He died by suicide on April 5, 1994 at age 27.

"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," Darren Julien, president and CEO of the auction house, said in the release.

Kurt Cobain guitar auction
The guitar
| Credit: Julien's Auctions

The musical instrument has a claim to fame of its own being one of only 302 D-18Es made by Martin Guitar.

Cobain customized the guitar, adding a Bartolini pickup to the soundhole, and decorated the hard-shell case with a flyer from punk rock band Poison Idea's 1990 album Feel the Darkness and three baggage-claim ticket stubs, according to the release.

The original case — which is filled with Cobain's half-used pack of guitar strings, three picks, and a suede "stash" bag decorated with a mini silver spoon, fork, and knife — is also included in the sale.

Before the instrument heads to auction, fans can view the artifact in the window display of the Hard Rock Cafe in Piccadilly Circus, London from Mary 14 through 31.

Along with the guitar, the sale will also include additional Nirvana memorabilia like a smashed Fender Strat from the In Utero tour, the metallic silver shirt Cobain wore in the "Heart-Shaped Box" music video, the typed setlist from Unplugged, and various lyric sheets.

Kurt Cobain guitar auction
The guitar and case
| Credit: Julien's Auctions

Cobain artifacts have been known to sell for mammoth prices — his In Utero tour Fender Mustang sold for $340,000, a paper plate setlist in his handwriting sold for $22,400, and a cardigan worn on his last photoshoot went for $75,000, the release noted.

Kurt Cobain
Juliens Auctions

Last year, Julien's Auctions sold the olive green sweater that Cobain wore during the Unplugged performance for $334,000 — the most expensive sweater ever auctioned, The Guardian reported.

Sold for the second time, the special piece remains stained and unwashed. It’s a blend of acrylic, mohair and Lycra, and features two exterior pockets, a burn hole and discoloration near the pockets, according to the Julien's Auctions listing.

Cobain’s widow, Courtney Love, reportedly gave the clothing item to close family friend Jackie Farry after his death. Then, in November 2015, it was auctioned off to a businessman for $137,500. He reportedly kept it stored in "acid-free tissue in a safe," according to Rolling Stone.