Kurt Cobain’s Smashed-Up Guitar Auctioned Off For $600,000
An electric guitar once owned and smashed by the legendary Kurt Cobain was sold at an auction in New York City for just under $600,000 – nearly 10 times what it was originally estimated for.
The Nirvana frontman is known to have broken several guitars while performing during their Nevermind era in the early 1990s, one of which is the iconic left-handed black-and-white Fender Stratocaster he smashed on stage and later reassembled.
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According to Julien Auctions, the company that handled the sale, despite the guitar’s repair, it remained unplayable and was later gifted by Cobain to friend and fellow musician Mark Lanegan in 1992. The body of the guitar is signed by Nirvana’s three members — Cobain, Dave Grohl, and Krist Novoselic – and features a message from Cobain to Lanegan that reads: “Hell-o Mark! Love, Your Pal, Kurdt Kobain / Washed up rockstar.”
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The guitar’s neck plate has “Boddah lives” inscribed into it, which is reportedly a reference to Cobain’s imaginary friend. The lefty black-and-white Fender is housed in a hard black case with “Abort Christ” inscribed on the top in white block letters.
The auction house’s founder and CEO, Darren Julian, originally estimated the guitar to sell for around $60,000 to $80,000, and the bidding began at $15,000 before it went all the way up to $596,900. Julian believes the high price fetched by the guitar reflects the rarity of items from Cobain and Nirvana, which he believes is “one of the highest in terms of collectability of all rock bands.”
Indeed, Cobain’s guitars are usually highly bided items at auctions. In 2020, his 1959 Martin D-18E, which he played on Nirvana’s iconic 1994 live performance/recording of MTV Unplugged in New York, sold for a whopping $6 million. In 2022, the 1969 Fender Mustang Cobain used in the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” 1991 music video sold for $4.5 million.
The Fender Stratocaster buyer’s identity is yet to be revealed, but they are reportedly a US-based Nirvana fan with a background in finance.
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