Kurt Cobain’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ guitar fetches $4.5M at auction

The iconic guitar played by late Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain in the 1991 video for Generation X anthem “Smells Like Teen Spirit” sold at auction Sunday for $4.5 million, or nearly eight times the expected high bid.

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The left-handed instrument with the “competition lake placid blue” finish was originally expected to fetch about $600,000, but topped out near $5 million during the finale of Julien’s Auctions’ Music Icons event, Billboard reported.

>> Related: ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’: Kurt Cobain’s iconic guitar to hit auction block

The 1969 Fender Mustang electric guitar sold to the Jim Irsay Collection of Indianapolis in a global bidding war among collectors who participated in the online and over-the-phone auction, Variety reported.

“I’m left-handed, and it’s not very easy to find reasonably priced, high-quality left-handed guitars. But out of all the guitars in the whole world, the Fender Mustang is my favorite. I’ve only owned two of them,” Cobain said in his final interview with Guitar World, the entertainment news outlet reported.

According to Billboard, the winning bid puts the instrument in the hands of Indianapolis Colts owner and CEO Jim Irsay. Meanwhile, Julien’s Auction confirmed in a statement that the Cobain family will donate a portion of the guitar’s proceeds to Irsay’s mental health awareness organization, Kicking the Stigma.

“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,” Darren Julien, president and CEO of Julien’s Auctions, stated.

“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,” he added.

According to Variety, other Cobain-related items sold during the auction included:

  • A 1965 baby blue Dodge Dart 170 4-door sedan driven by Cobain for $375,000.
  • A Cobain-drawn 1985 Iron Maiden “Killers” skateboard deck artwork, featuring the Iron Maiden mascot “Eddie” for $35,200 (included added NFT).
  • Cobain’s original artwork of Michael Jackson plus NFT for $87,500.