Subscribe to our newsletter

(Credit: Alamy)

Music

Kurt Cobain's Fender Mustang sold for $4.5 million at auction

@SamWKemp

The guitar used by Kurt Cobain in the video for Nirvana’s 1991 single ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ has been sold at auction for $4.5 million.

The Nirvana frontman’s left-handed, Lake Placid Blue 1969 Fender Mustang was one of the items included in Julien’s Auction’s Music Icons event, held at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York and online.

Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay put in the winning bid. Irsay, who previously displayed the guitar before buying it outright, said: “I am thrilled to preserve and protect another piece of American culture that changed the way we looked at world,” Irsay said following the purchase.

He added: “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.” As mentioned by Irsay, The Cobain family will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Colts’ Kicking The Stigma campaign, which aims to raise awareness about mental health.

Mustangs weren’t Cobain’s favourite guitar because they were technically superior in any way. They were, however, cheap and were available as left-hand models. Speaking to Guitar World back in ’91, Cobain said: “I’m left-handed, and it’s not very easy to find reasonably priced, high-quality left-handed guitars,” Cobain told the publication. “But out of all the guitars in the whole world, the Fender Mustang is my favourite.”

In a recent statement, Darren Julien of Julien’s Auctions said that it had been “one of our greatest privileges and most distinguished honours” to be responsible for auctioning the guitar. “[It is] one of the most culturally significant and historically important guitars not only of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana’s legacy but in all of rock music history,” he added. “Rarely do personally owned items from Kurt Cobain with this incredible and unprecedented provenance of his life and career become available for public sale.”