It has been 26 years since Nirvana released MTV Unplugged in New York to the world. The live performance was actually recorded in November 1993 but it wasn’t released until November 1994, seven months after Kurt Cobain took his own life. I used to sneak into my older brother’s room every day to steal his CD. I was too young to realize the impact that album had on the music industry but even as a kid I was aware that it was damn near perfection.
MTV Unplugged in New York is considered to be one of the greatest albums ever released. It debuted at #1 on Billboard, was certified 5x Platinum in 1997, won the 1996 Grammy for Best Alternative Music Performance, and the guitar that Kurt Cobain used for that Nirvana performance just became the most expensive guitar ever sold after it fetched $6 million at auction.
Julien’s Auctions initially estimated that Kurt’s 1959 Martin D-18E guitar which he purchased at Los Angeles’ Voltage Guitars would fetch somewhere between $1-2 million but the auction absolutely demolished those projections. The guitar has been modified to fit Kurt who was left-handed, another aspect that makes this such a unique piece of music history.
The auction closed on Saturday with the winning bid coming in at $6,010,000, according to Rolling Stone. In total, there were seven bids on the guitar which is pretty wild considering if fetched 3 to 6 times the estimate.
Here’s a description from the auction website on what makes this guitar such an incredible piece of music history:
With the passage of time and the growth of their legacy, it is easy to forget just how fast and brightly Nirvana’s flame burned. Leading up to their 1993 MTV Unplugged performance, Nirvana was the most popular band in the world, but only two years had passed between the time Nirvana hit the mainstream in 1991 and their iconic MTV Unplugged appearance. In what would become Nirvana’s most legendary performance, Kurt Cobain played his 1959 Martin D-18E in a live taping for the popular MTV Unplugged series on November 18, 1993. Approximately five months before his death, Cobain chose this guitar to paint what Rolling Stone called “his last self-portrait.”
Nirvana’s acoustic performance that night produced one of the greatest live albums of all time, MTV Unplugged in New York. 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, “All Apologies,” “Come As You Are,” “About A Girl,” and “Dumb,” as well as covers of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World” and a haunting rendition of Lead Belly’s “Black Girl” renamed “Where Did You Sleep Last Night.” MTV Unplugged in New York debuted at No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard charts and is consistently ranked among the top ten live albums of all time. (via)
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I’m having trouble wrapping my mind around someone spending $6 million on a guitar and what type of person might have enough extra cash lying around to make a purchase like this, and what will they do with it now that they own it? Hang it on the wall?