Kurt Cobain’s Smashed Guitar from First Nirvana Tour Sells for Nearly $500,000

The winning bid more than doubled the original auction estimate of $200,000

kurt cobain smashed guitar auction
Kurt Cobain’s smashed Fender Mustang, via Julien’s Auctions

    A 1973 Fender Mustang that was smashed onstage by Kurt Cobain during Nirvana’s first tour in 1989 sold for nearly $500,000 at auction.

    The winning bid of $486,400 far exceeded the original estimate of $200,000, highlighting the “Icons and Idols: Rock ‘N’ Roll” auction hosted over the weekend by Julien’s Auctions. The event was held in-person at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York City and saw a bounty of one-of-a-kind rock memorabilia hit the block.

    Cobain’s smashed guitar stole headlines after its final bid nearly hit a half million dollars. The Mustang was played at two shows on Nirvana’s first US tour in 1989: a July 8th gig at Club Dreamerz in Chicago and the following night at Sonic Temple in Wilkinsburg, Pennsylvania — during which Cobain smashed the instrument, as he often did at the end of Nirvana shows.

    Following the Wilkinsburg concert, Nirvana crashed with Sluggo Cawley of the Boston band Hullabaloo. It was here that Cobain spied Sluggo’s similarly smashed Gibson SG. Thinking that he could repair the SG enough to smash it again, Cobain proposed a trade for his Mustang, an offer Sluggo wisely accepted. Kurt even sloppily inscribed the body of the guitar in Sharpie: “Yo Sluggo, Thank for the Trade! IF its illegal to Rock and Roll, throw my ASS in JAiL … NIRVANA.”


    Recalled Cawley of the encounter in a 2020 interview with Innocent Words [via Julien’s]: “Kurt asked me if he could have the smashed Gibson SG I had hanging on my wall. So I said, Sure, but now I won’t have one for my wall. Kurt replied, I’ll be right back. He went out to their van and presented me a 1973 Fender Mustang that he deemed beyond repair. In sort of mock guitar hero worship, I asked him to sign it for me.”

    The Fender Mustang has been previously exhibited at Experience Music Project in Seattle between 2007 and 2008.

    Below you can view close up pics of the guitar.

    kurt cobain smashed mustang 2

    kurt cobain smashed mustang

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