This year, the most expensive and important guitar was sold at auction: Kurt Cobain's blue Fender Mustang. An essential piece of music history, a lot of collectors have been searching for ways to acquire the instrument. Cobain had also gone on record stating it's his favorite. The recent sale put the rocker's storied electric guitar in new hands.
Infamous Guitar From Kurt Cobain’s Collection
The 1969 Competition Lake Placid Blue Mustang is definitely the most important instrument in Nirvana's success. Moreover, it's one of the biggest sought-for pieces of instruments in music history. This guitar appeared in the group's music video for the hit song Smells Like Teen Spirit. But it’s not the only thing it’s famous for. Selling for $4.5 million at auction, it became the second most valuable guitar overall after Cobain's 1959 Martin D-18E. The latter was featured in Nirvana's MTV Unplugged performance back in 1993, and sold for $6 million. Currently, it’s the most valuable electric guitar, ever. The auction for the Fender Mustang was hosted by Julien's Auctions Music Icons, held at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York. It started with a $150,000 bid. David Gilmour Black Strat owner Jim Irsay received the guitar several bids later for $4.5 million without fees.
"I am proud to be the steward," Irsay commented on social media. The owner and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts is a serious instrument collector. He adores guitars and paid $3.9 million for the Black Strat in 2019. His collection of instruments has been held by Elvis Presley, George Harrison, John Lennon, Paul McCartney, Eric Clapton, Jerry Garcia, Prince, Les Paul, and Bob Dylan in the past. His collection is frequently open to U.S. viewers. “In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Cobain family is donating a portion of the proceeds of the legendary guitar and select Kurt Cobain items to Kicking The Stigma,” Darren Julien, President/Chief Executive Officer of Julien's Auctions said.
Smells Like Teen Spirit
What’s Kicking The Stigma? Irsay's family created the non-profit to bring awareness to mental health disorders. "I am thrilled to preserve and protect another piece of American culture that changed the way we looked at world," he explained in the official statement. "The fact that a portion of the proceeds will go toward our effort to kick the stigma surrounding mental health makes this acquisition even more special to me." Julien is also excited to pass the guitar into secure hands. "To have this legendary guitar, one of the most culturally significant and historically important guitars of Kurt Cobain and in all of rock music history return to my home state of Indiana to be part of Jim Irsay's renowned memorabilia collection is a great honor and personal highlight of my life," he added.
"This once-in-a-lifetime auction has been one of the greatest privileges in my professional career and I'm duly pleased that the proceeds will also bring much needed attention to mental health awareness." The blue Mustang was one of Cobain’s favorites – it’s the only Competition Stripe Mustang he ever had. He had it when Nirvana arrived in Los Angels to work on the second album Nevermind. The musician used the guitar in the 1991 Nevermind tour.
During the October 19th show, Cobain got frustrated and smashed the blue guitar into the monitor board. The damage can still be seen on the instrument.