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Kurt Cobain's Nirvana MTV Unplugged Martin D-18E guitar is up for auction

The 1959 Martin D-18E that took centre stage with Kurt Cobain for Nirvana's legendary 1993 MTV Unplugged performance is going up for auction in June.

Current values suggest it's worth over a million dollars. 

The guitar was centre of the divorce settlement between Cobain's daughter Frances Bean Cobain and her ex-husband Isaiah Silva with the latter now its legal owner. 

(Image credit: Frank Micelotta Archive / Getty)

Even without the Cobain connection, it's a rare guitar. It's the seventh of only 302 D-18Es built by Martin but as Nirvana tech Earnie Bailey told Total Guitar, it was then heavily modified for Nirvana's 1993 MTV Unplugged performance in New York.

Kurt Cobain's key guitars

(Image credit: Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic via Getty Images)

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“The D-18E’s spruce top was weighted down by a trio of volume and tone potentiometers, a toggle switch and a Bartolini soundhole pickup mounted between a pair of hefty [stock] 1950s DeArmond Dynasonic pickups [these ended up being bypassed in favour of the retrofit Bartolini], said Bailey.

The guitar will be auctioned off by Julien's in Beverly Hills, CA as part of its Music Icons sale, taking place on 19 and 20 June, 2020.

The D-18E will be sold with its original hardshell case, complete with a half-used pack of Martin guitar strings, three picks and Cobain's suede bag, which is decorated with a miniature silver spoon, fork and knife.

For more information on the sale, visit