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Kurt Cobain’s guitar from ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ video up for auction

The left-handed Fender Mustang is expected to fetch hundreds of thousands of pounds

By Will Richards

Kurt Cobain and his Fender Mustang in Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' video
Kurt Cobain and his Fender Mustang in Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' video. (Photo: YouTube)

The guitar Kurt Cobain used in Nirvana’s iconic music video for ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ is going up for auction.

The left-handed Fender Mustang in Competition Lake Placid blue colour has previously been on display at the MoPOP Museum of Pop Culture in Seattle.

Next month (May 20-22) at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York, the guitar will appear as part of the Music Icons event from Julien’s Auctions and is expected to fetch between $600,000-$800,000 (£460,000-£615,000).

In a 1991 interview with Guitar World, the Nirvana frontman spoke about his love for the guitar, saying: “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 favourite.”

Other items in the auction will include a 1965 sky blue Dodge Dart owned by Cobain and memorabilia from The Beatles, Queen, Elvis Presley, Lady Gaga, Bob Dylan, Jimi Hendrix and more.

A number of the items in the auction will also come with special NFT accompaniments, such as a narrative guide to the guitar from Earnie Baily, Cobain’s guitar tech.

Full details of the auction can be found here, and watch the Mustang in action in the legendary ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ video below.

In a statement, Julien’s Auctions president Darren Julien called it “one of our greatest privileges and most distinguished honours” to auction Cobain’s guitar.

He added: “[It is] one of the most culturally significant and historically important guitars not only of Kurt Cobain and Nirvana’s legacy but in all of rock music history.

“Rarely do personally owned items from Kurt Cobain with this incredible and unprecedented provenance of his life and career become available for public sale.”

Elsewhere, plans are afoot to turn Gus Van Sant’s divisive Kurt Cobain biopic into an opera. ‘Last Days’, released in 2005, was heavily inspired by the final days of the Nirvana frontman, although names were changed for fear of legal reprisal. The film followed Michael Pitt as Blake, who was based on Cobain, from his escape from rehab in the opening scene to his eventual suicide.

The film met with mixed reviews, holding a 57% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but the broad canon of artistic works inspired by the life and death of Cobain will now be expanded to encompass opera, as ‘Last Days’ is adapted by London’s Royal Opera House for its 2022-2023 season.

Yesterday (April 11), Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic came together with members of Pearl Jam and Soundgarden to form a new band called 3rd Secret, who have surprise-released a full-length debut album.