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Kurt Cobain’s guitar bought by Røde Microphones founder for record amount

Kurt Cobain’s guitar bought by Røde Microphones founder for record amount

Kurt Cobain’s guitar bought by Røde Microphones founder for record amount


The founder of Røde Microphones, Peter Freedman, has paid US$6.01 million at auction for the 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic guitar played by Kurt Cobain at Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance in November 1993. Freedman plans to use the guitar to raise awareness and funding for out-of-work performers by displaying it in a worldwide exhibition tour of galleries and art spaces, with all proceeds – including the guitar – going to the performing arts.

The sale was conducted in Los Angeles by Julien’s Auctions, which said it set five world records, including most expensive guitar and piece of memorabilia. Included in the lot was the original hard-shell case customised by Cobain with a flyer for punk band Poison, an Alaskan airline sticker and baggage claim receipts, Cobain’s half-used pack of guitar strings and a small black velvet pouch containing a knife, fork and spoon.

“When I heard that this iconic guitar was up for auction, I immediately knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure it and use it as a vehicle to spotlight the struggles that those in the performing arts are facing and have always faced,” commented Freedman. “The global arts industry has been shattered by the impact of Covid-19, with musicians and artists being amongst the most affected. The last few months were the straw that broke the camel’s back and, for many in the arts, have brought forth the harsh reality that they work in an industry for which there is little support in times of need. While many industries are gradually returning to normal, it’s going to take a long time before this industry can begin functioning as it was. The toll this has taken and will continue to take is enormous and requires more than just lip service. I saw buying this guitar as an opportunity to not only share it with music fans, but to do so in a way that raises awareness for the struggles that musicians and artists face every day, and lobby governments for change.”

MTV Unplugged in New York debuted at the top of the US Billboard charts when it was released, just three months before Kobain’s death in April 1994. It has sold over 8 million copies since its release and is consistently ranked among the top 10 live albums of all time. The Martin D-18E was the only guitar Cobain played during the performance and is emblematic of Nirvana’s most legendary performance.

“Nirvana’s Unplugged is one of my favourite records of all time, and easily one of the best live performances ever captured on film,” added Freedman. “They were a huge influence on me; the early 1990s were Røde’s formative years, and Nirvana’s music was very much the soundtrack to that time in my life and that era of the company.”

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