Forget About Bugattis and Ferraris, Kurt Cobain's Guitar Just Sold for $4.5 Million

Some classic cars have become so expensive that they go under the hammer for 10-figure sums. But it's not just vintage vehicles that have become absurdly expensive. Celebrity memorabilia also tends to go for millions of dollars nowadays. Take one of Kurt Cobain's electric guitars, for instance, which was just auctioned off for a whopping $4.5 million.
1969 Fender Mustang previously owned by Nirvana's Kurt Cobain 6 photos
Photo: Julien's Auctions
Kurt Cobain's 1969 Fender MustangKurt Cobain's 1969 Fender MustangKurt Cobain's 1969 Fender MustangKurt Cobain's 1965 Dodge DartKurt Cobain's 1965 Dodge Dart
Ludicrous? Seemingly. Because that's enough cash to buy several houses, a 1960s Ferrari, or a Bugatti Chiron. But we're not talking about just any guitar. This 1969 Fender Mustang in Lake Placid Blue was featured in Nirvana's breakthrough hit "Smells Like Teen Spirit."

Released in September 1991, it became the band's most successful song and propelled Nirvana's "Nevermind" album to the top of several album charts at the start of 1992. Dubbed an "anthem for apathetic kids" of Generation X, it's often listed as one of the greatest songs of all time. It was certified platinum in the U.S. with sales of more than one million copies.

The guitar, which remained in Cobain's family after the singer committed suicide in 1994, spent the last 12 years in the Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle, Nirvana's hometown. Sold by Julien's Auctions, the left-handed Mustang far surpassed all expectations, after being estimated to sell for up to $800,000.

The guitar was acquired by Jim Irsay, the American businessman known for being the owner and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts. An avid memorabilia collector, Irsay also owns guitars played by Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Prince, and Bob Dylan.

A part of the proceeds was donated by the Cobain family to Kicking the Stigma, an initiative that raises awareness about mental health.

While $4.5 million is a massive amount for an electric guitar, it's not the most expensive instrument previously owned by Kurt Cobain that was sold at auction. In 2020, the Martin D-18E acoustic guitar that Cobain played during Nirvana's 1993 MTV Unplugged performance in New York went under the hammer for a record $6 million.

Julien's Auctions' three-day music auction event also saw Cobain's personal 1965 Dodge Dart cross the block. The light blue four-door sedan was estimated to fetch at least $400,000 but sold for $375,000.
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About the author: Ciprian Florea
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Ask Ciprian about cars and he'll reveal an obsession with classics and an annoyance with modern design cues. Read his articles and you'll understand why his ideal SUV is the 1969 Chevrolet K5 Blazer.
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