Kurt Cobain's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' Guitar Sells For Shocking Price

By Katrina Nattress

May 23, 2022

Kurt Cobain Memorabilia To Go Up For Auction
Photo: Getty Images Europe

The guitar Kurt Cobain used in Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" video sold at auction this weekend for a shocking price. The left-handed 1969 Fender Mustang in Competition Lake Placid Blue finish was expected to sell for between $600,000-$800,000 but ended up going for a whole lot more: $4,500,000 to be exact.

It was sold to the Jim Irsay Collection of Indianapolis. “I am thrilled to preserve and protect another piece of American culture that changed the way we looked at [the] world,” said Irsay, who owns NFL team Indiana Colts. “The fact that a portion of the proceeds will go toward our effort to kick the stigma surrounding mental health makes this acquisition even more special to me.”

“To have this legendary guitar, one of the most culturally significant and historically important guitars of Kurt Cobain and in all of rock music history return to my home state of Indiana to be part of Jim Irsay’s renowned memorabilia collection is a great honor and personal highlight of my life,” said Darren Julien, president and chief executive officer of Julien’s Auctions. “This once-in-a-lifetime auction has been one of the greatest privileges in my professional career and I’m duly pleased that the proceeds will also bring much needed attention to mental health awareness.”

In addition to the guitar, Cobain’s 1965 Dodge Dart and an accompanying NFT also sold for $375,000. The Cobain family is donating a portion of the auction proceeds to Kicking The Stigma — the Irsays’ initiative to raise awareness about mental health disorders and remove the stigma associated with these illnesses.

In his final Guitar World interview, Cobain expressed his love for that particular guitar. “I’m left-handed, and it’s not very easy to find reasonably priced, high-quality left-handed guitars,” he says. “But out of all the guitars in the whole world, the Fender Mustang is my favorite. I’ve only owned two of them.”

Surprisingly, this isn't the most expensive guitar of Cobain's. The Martin D-28E he played during Nirvana's MTV Unplugged set sold for more than $6 million, which is the record for most expensive guitar ever sold at auction.

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