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Rock News

Kurt Cobain was born on February 20, 1967. While he was only on the Earth for 27 years, he left an impact that is still felt today.

Many musicians have talked about the impact of the late Nirvana frontman. Billie Joe Armstrong once said of Cobain, “When someone goes that honestly straight to the core of who they are, what they’re feeling, and was able to kind of put it out there, I don’t know, man, it’s amazing. I remember hearing it when ‘Nevermind’ came out and just thinking, we’ve finally got our Beatles, this era finally got our Beatles, and ever since then it’s never happened again.”

Patti Smith said in 1996 she was happy a generation of young people had Nirvana growing up. She noted, “I didn’t know anything about Kurt’s torments or personal life. I saw the work and the energy, and I was excited by that.”

Surprisingly, Cobain also has a lot of love from the rap community. Complex gathered quotes from some of the biggest rappers of all time about how much they admire Cobain. Jay Z likened Cobain to artist Jean-Michel Basquiat, who also died at 27 and struggled with substance abuse.

The reach of Cobain has continued as Nirvana is always introduced to new generations. Dave Grohl said during an Ocotber 2023 appearance on Conan O'Brien Needs a Friend, “What I’ve realized is that kids these days, there’s like a window between the ages of 10 and 13 or maybe 11 and 14, where almost every kid goes through a Nirvana phase.”

This impact is why when Cobain-related items go up for auction, they sell for massive price tags. In the past decade, Cobain memorabilia has seemingly become a subset of the entire celebrity auction market.

Want proof? Check out these six items that sold big at auction.

  • His Hair

    Let’s start with the weirdest (and grossest) piece of Cobain memorabilia that sold in recent years. In May 2021, Iconic Auctions sold six strands of the late Nirvana frontman’s hair for $14,145. Proceeds from the auction went to The Crew Nation Global Relief Fund for crew workers that were unemployed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Per the item’s listing, “Supremely rare presentation of six strands of Kurt Cobain’s hair. Unique presentation on a 8.5” x 11” sheet includes six strands of Cobain’s blonde hair, the largest measuring approximately 2.5,” and housed in a small card with plastic overlay 1.75” x 2.” This one-of-a-kind artifact is entirely fresh-to-market, and accompanied by an impeccable lineage of provenance including images of Kurt posing with the woman who cut this hair, scissors in hand, and a fantastic shot of the hair actually being cut! The lucky friend who trimmed the Nirvana frontman’s iconic blonde locks, was an early confidant, Tessa Osbourne, who cut his hair in 1989—well prior to his “Nevermind” breakthrough—whilst on the “Bleach” Tour.”

  • A Used Paper Plate

    Not far behind his hair is a used paper plate. (Seriously, we wish we were kidding!) In May 2019, Julien’s Auctions sold a used paper plate Cobain wrote a set list on for a 1990 Nirvana show at the 9:30 nightclub in Washington, D.C. The winning bid? $22,400!

  • Cobain's Blockbuster Video Card

    Here’s one that’ll hit you right in the nostalgia: In 2017, Julien’s Auctions sold Cobain’s Blockbuster Video card. The card was issued at a Los Angeles store location located at 1508 North Orange Grove. The card was estimated to sell for between $400-$600. It ended up selling for $2,187.50.

  • Cobain's Cardigan from 'MTV Unplugged'

    Cobain’s olive-green mohair cardigan he wore during the band’s now-legendary appearance on MTV Unplugged sold via Julien’s Auctions in October 2019. It sold for a whopping $334,000. That winning bid made it the most expensive sweater to ever be sold at auction. Julien’s Auctions originally estimated that the Cobain sweater would sell for between $200,000-$300,000.

  • The 1969 Fender Mustang Competition Lake Placid blue finish electric guitar used in the 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' music video

    Originally estimated to sell between $600,000-$800,000, this unique piece of rock/music video history ended up selling for $4.5 million in May 2022. The electric guitar was yet another piece of Cobain memorabilia sold by Julien’s Auctions.

    Per a press release from Julien’s Auctions, “The guitar was acquired by The Jim Irsay Collection in Indianapolis in a bidding war among collectors and bidders all across the globe who participated live at the Hard Rock Cafe® New York, online at juliensauctions.com and on the phone…In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Cobain family is donating a portion of the proceeds of the legendary guitar and select Kurt Cobain items to Kicking The Stigma, the Irsays’ initiative to raise awareness about mental health disorders and remove the stigma associated with these illnesses.”

  • The 1959 Martin D-18E Acoustic-Electric guitar Cobain played on 'MTV Unplugged'

    Last, but certainly not least, is this truly historic piece of Cobain memorabilia. In June 2020, Julien’s Auctions sold the 1959 Martin D-18E Acoustic-Electric guitar Cobain played on MTV Unplugged. The guitar was estimated to sell for $1 million, but it ended up going for $6.01 million!

    In the process, it set the following records: World’s Most Expensive Guitar, World’s Most Expensive Acoustic Guitar, World’s Most Expensive Martin Guitar, World’s Most Expensive Piece of Memorabilia and World’s Most Expensive Nirvana Memorabilia.

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