An iconic guitar played by Kurt Cobain during Nirvana’s 1993 MTV Unplugged performance is now the most expensive of all time, after it was purchased at auction by the Aussie CEO of RØDE Microphones.
Peter Freeman bought the legendary axe for US$6.01 million, which translates to almost $9 million Australian dollars, setting the world record for the most expensive guitar sold.
The guitar came with its original hard-shell case that Cobain had adorned with a flyer for the band Poison Idea’s 1990 album Feel the Darkness. The previous most expensive guitar ever was a Black Stratocaster owned by David Gilmour from Pink Floyd. It fetched US$3.95 million.
“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,” said Darren Julien, CEO of Julien’s Auctions.
In a press release, Freeman, who is not only the CEO of RØDE Microphones but also founded the audio company, said he plans to display the guitar on a worldwide tour of exhibitions. All proceeds from exhibiting the guitar will go to the embattled performing arts industry.
“When I heard that this iconic guitar was up for auction,” said Freeman. “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.”
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“The global arts industry has been shattered by the impact of COVID-19, with musicians and artists being amongst the most affected,” added Freeman. “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.”
The Nirvana MTV Unplugged performance was recorded on November 18th, 1993. Kurt Cobain would pass away five months later, making it one of the band’s last and most celebrated performances.
Nirvana’s Unplugged is one of my favourite records of all time, and easily one of the best live performances ever captured on film,” said Freeman. “They were a huge influence on me; the early-90s 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.”