TWO of Kurt Cobain’s guitars are up for auction for Played, Worn & Torn: Rock ‘N’ Roll Iconic Guitars and Memorabilia by Julien’s Auctions. The Beverly Hills-headquartered auction house, celebrating its 20th anniversary, has sold items used by music and Hollywood luminaries like Madonna, Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe, and Kurt Cobain. The auction house was responsible for the 2016 record-breaking sale of Marilyn Monroe’s dress when she sang “Happy Birthday” for the slain US president John F. Kennedy in 1962. The dress holds the record for one of the most expensive dresses ever sold at auction, at $4.8 million.
Up for grabs in the auction running from Nov. 16 to 18 is Kurt Cobain’s “Skystang I,” his recognizable 1993 Fender MG-69 Mustang. According to the catalogue’s notes, “it is the most well-documented and recognizable of Kurt’s stage instruments, and certainly his most used during the 1993-1994 In Utero touring cycle.” The guitar is estimated to go up to $2 million, with two current bids on Julien’s website at $700,000. Mr. Cobain was the frontman of iconic ‘90s grunge band Nirvana, whose life ended in 1994 by suicide.
Also in the sale is a smashed but signed cream-colored Fender Stratocaster guitar, used onstage by Mr. Cobain in Buenos Aires, Argentina, on Oct. 30, 1992. The guitar is signed by Mr. Cobain and Krist Novoselic in black marker, and then-Nirvana drummer and now Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl has written an entire poem on the guitar within a heart-shaped bubble: “Hello. My name is Dave. I like Rave. It’ll drive me to my grave. But I’m not dumb. I play drums with two green thumbs and a sour plumb that makes the roof of my mouth numb – David.” According to the notes, Mr. Cobain typically used Stratocaster guitars towards the end of his sets, “in case he wanted to destroy it.” The guitar is missing strings and hardware and is in two major pieces, namely the body and the neck. The original recipient of the guitar won it in a BBC Radio 1 contest in 1992. This guitar is estimated to sell for up to $700,000, with a starting bid of $125,000.
Meanwhile, Elvis Presley’s 1950s gold-filled Lord Elgin watch is also for sale, accompanied by a poster of him wearing the watch. He owned different versions from the brand in the 50s and 60s. *There is also another piece owned by Mr. Presley in the sale: an 18-karat gold ID bracelet. The bracelet, engraved with the late rock and roll icon’s name, was gifted to him in the 1960s, and he regifted it in the 1970s to Joe Esposito, his best man at his 1967 wedding to Priscilla Presley (whose biopic directed by Sofia Coppola premiered this year). The watch has an estimate price between $20,000 to $30,000, while the bracelet has an estimate price of $30,000 to $50,000.
Other items up for auction include Michael Jackson’s jacket, worn at the 1992-1993 Dangerous World Tour (estimate price: $20,000 to $40,000), a jukebox gifted by Elton John to John Lennon (estimate price: $80,000 to $100,000), Paul McCartney’s tour bus (estimate price: $200,000 to $300,000), and a 1977 Lincoln Continental driven by Elvis Presley, months before his death (estimate price: $200,000 to $300,000).
The auction takes place between Nov. 16 to 18. The sale features 1000 items from a range of artists, from Eric Clapton to Lady Gaga. One can register at julienslive.com to bid online, with a live auction at the Hard Rock Cafe in Nashville, Tennessee. — Joseph L. Garcia