Kurt Cobain’s beloved 1969 Fender Mustang and his 1965 Dodge Dart will be auctioned by Julien’s in New York
In the taxonomy of possessions of famous artists, there are two broad classifications, the first being their actual tools of the trade, and the second being those everyday things that would happen in the fumes of all life, ticket stubs, old toys, etc. . but which are exalted and impregnated with a particular value because of their provenance. In rock and roll, and especially among the legendary founders of the genre mix we call grunge, these lines of classification are very blurred. Kurt Cobain was a cultural omnivore – his genius was that he picked up the wreckage of the zeitgeist and molded it into a booming musical arc. His left-handed 1969 Fender Mustang with lofty scars, one of two Mustangs he owned, was the tool of that trade and was both cherished and, he gleefully admitted, regularly abused on stage.
Much like its owner then, the Mustang is now on a solo transatlantic tour in preparation for its May 22 sale in New York. Julien’s Auctions kicked off the transatlantic tour at London’s Hard Rock Cafe at Picadilly Circus on April 27. From there, the guitar will return to the United States in the coming weeks. Julien’s is the Los Angeles-based house that auctioned Cobain’s “MTV Unplugged” 1959 Martin D18 in 2020 for over $6 million. Spirit” video — will bring a pretty penny. Breaking seven digits is considered very likely.
Julien’s Executive Director Martin Nolan, who brought the guitar from the Beverly Hills showrooms to London’s Picadilly Circus to kick off the viewing tour, had this to say about the instrument: “We consider this guitar is not only the most important Kurt Cobain or Nirvana artifact ever to be auctioned, it is also currently the most important piece in pop culture history to be auctioned. The video of Kurt playing this guitar has been viewed some two billion times and is culturally one of the most influential moments in rock ‘n’ roll.
So much for the big star lot of the auction. Around this, Julien’s has assembled an impressive, and at times hilarious, collection of objects from the everyday, non-exalted side of Mr. Cobain’s elated life – the impossibly bland 1965 Dodge Dart, his ogling and rubbing sketch of Michael Jackson on stage, a stub plane ticket, his “all-access” pass to the Nevermind tour, and a Gumby toy that Cobain had wittily personalized with handwritten “Nirvana” graffito (apparently in felt-tip pen).
Was he imagining a hyper-irono new Nirvana product, perhaps? We’ll never know. But the Gumby points to 1960s-1970s zeitgeist garbage of exactly the kind that Cobain would dig deep for source material. Not suggesting that a Gumby would be a “muse”, exactly. More like some sort of ominous Beelzebub that Cobain could easily and grandly demonize in song.