Guitar expected to sell for at least US$1,000,000
In 1993, Nirvana were already making headlines around the world but it was their performance on MTV's 'Unplugged in New York' that turned them into icons.
Fans had been used to Nirvana's screeching, guitar-smashing sets and were taken by surprise when they sat down with their acoustic guitars to put in a blinding performance of both covers and previously unheard versions of their own songs.
Cuts from the album, released seven months after Cobain’s death, would go on to become the most celebrated and defining versions of Nirvana’s songs, 'About A Girl', 'All Apologies', 'Come As You Are', and 'Dumb', as well as covers of David Bowie’s 'The Man Who Sold the World,' The Meat Puppets’ 'Lake of Fire' and a haunting rendition of Lead Belly’s "Black Girl" renamed 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night?'
'MTV Unplugged in New York' debuted at number one on the US billboard charts and is consistently ranked among the top ten live albums of all time. Cobain’s mastery of this guitar along with Nirvana’s flawless acoustic and vocal performance propelled the 'MTV Unplugged in New York' album to multi-platinum certification and won the Grammy Award for Best Alternative Music Album in 1996.
The guitar played by Kurt for that performance was the seventh of only 302 D-18Es built by Martin and was customised by Cobain who added a Bartolini pickup to the soundhole. The starting estimate for the guitar is $1,000,000.
Darren Julien, President/CEO of Julien’s Auctions said: "Julien’s Auctions is proud to offer this historic guitar from Kurt Cobain, who upended the music industry and pop culture at large with his mythic performance fronting Nirvana on 'MTV Unplugged in New York.'
"This important guitar has earned its rightful place in Rock ’N’ 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."
Fans have a chance to view the guitar in the window display of the Hard Rock Cafe in Piccadilly Circus from May 15 until May 31. It will then go to Julien’s Auctions Gallery in Beverly Hills from June 15 to June 19 before the auction itself on June 19 and 20.
Kurt Cobain’s memorabilia has previously been sold for record amounts, one item being his cardigan worn on 'MTV Unplugged in New York', which sold for $334,000 (£268,000). His 'In Utero' tour Fender Mustang guitar sold for $340,000 (£273,000), and his cardigan worn on his last photoshoot sold for $75,000 (£60,000).
You can watch him play the guitar at the legendary show in full below.