Gerry Martire

Gerry Martire

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Guitar Smashed By Kurt Cobain In 1989 Just Sold For Nearly $500,000

Vintage guitars are not cheap, but vintage guitars smashed to pieces by Kurt Cobain might as well be fine art.

A 1973 Fender Mustang which was bashed beyond repair during a 1989 Nirvana show just sold at auction for a staggering $486,400.

(For reference, an intact example of the guitar [which was produced by Fender from 1969 - '73] typically sells for between $2,500 - $8,500.)

The guitar in question is believed to have only been played by Cobain at two Nirvana shows before meeting its destiny in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania, on July 9, 1989, in a wanton display of punk rock fury. Nirvana was on tour at the time in support of its debut album, Bleach.

It is believed to be one of the first guitars Cobain ever smashed onstage.

The mutilated Mustang isn't the only smashed Cobain guitar to sell for a boatload of money. A pair of Stratocasters the frontman destroyed in 1992 sold for about $150,000 total in 2020. A Univox that Cobain destroyed in '89, just four days after the stunt with the aforementioned Mustang, fetched $56,250 in a 2016 auction.

That Univox plays an important role in the Mustang's story, because after Cobain broke that guitar, he was left with no working guitars and no money to buy a new one before a show in Boston on July 15, 1989. Cobain played the show with no guitar at all (his parts were handled by Nirvana's then-second guitarist Jason Everman).

While in Boston, Cobain traded the broken Mustang to friend Sluggo Cawley for a beat up but repairable Gibson SG.

Cawley recalled (via Innocent Words) that Cobain reasoning that he could fix the SG "and smash it later." Cawley had no plans to try and repair either guitar; he only wanted something to hang on his wall where the SG had been, so he accepted Cobain's proposition.

As a thank you for the deal, Cobain autographed the broken guitar, adding the message, 'Yo Sluggo, Thank for the trade, If its illegal to Rock and Roll, then throw my ass in jail, Nirvana."

While it might seem anathema to drop nearly half a million dollars on a smashed guitar, an iconic and playable Martin acoustic-electric guitar which Cobain used during Nirvana's iconic MTV Unplugged set in 1994 sold in 2020 for a record-breaking $6,010,000.

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