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Kurt Cobain's smashed Fender guitar sells for nearly $600K

The signed Fender Stratocaster, which was smashed during Nirvana's "Nevermind" era, was auctioned for 10 times the expected sale price.
Kurt Cobain's smashed Fender guitar sells for nearly $600K
Posted at 11:06 AM, May 22, 2023

The late Kurt Cobain's smashed Fender Stratocaster electric guitar sold at auction over the weekend for nearly $600,000, 10 times the estimated sale price.

The iconic piece of grunge rock history comes from the early 1990s, when Nirvana was making their influential "Nevermind" album. The guitar, which was reassembled but remains unplayable, was expected to sell for about $60,000 to $80,000 at the Julien's auction in New York. The winning bid was $596,900.

Housed in a black hard case and signed by all three band members, the guitar also has an inscription from Cobain addressed to Screaming Trees lead vocalist Mark Lanegan — who died last year of unspecified causes.

"Hell-O Mark. Love, your pal Kurdt Kobain / washed up Rock Star," he wrote.

Cobain gifted the guitar to Lanegan in the fall of 1992, during the band's North American leg of the "Nevermind" tour, according to Julien's Auctions. The two commonly swapped songwriting and personal credits prior to Cobain's suicide in 1994.

As pioneers of the grunge movement of the 1990s, Cobain's songwriting, paired with Nirvana's raw and honest sound, resonated with millions.  With iconic hits like "Smells Like Teen Spirit" and "Come as You Are," the band's music quickly became the voice of rebellious, disenchanted youth.

The band's handwritten setlist from their 1991 performance at the OK Hotel in Seattle sold at the same "Music Icons" auction for $50,800 — more than 12 times the estimated sale price of $4,000 to $8,000. 

A number of pieces of musical memorabilia were also auctioned off during the two-day event, including guitars played by Bono, Eddie Van Halen and Rush's Alex Lifeson, as well as Michael Jackson's stage-worn jacket from his "Dangerous" world tour.

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