Kurt Cobain’s guitar used in Nirvana’s ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ video sells for £3.5million

The left-handed 1969 Fender Mustang, in a Lake Placid Blue finish, was sold off as part of Julien’s Auctions’ three-day Music Icons event, which ran across this weekend (May 20-22) at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York and online.

The winning bid came from Indianapolis Colts owner Jim Irsay, who had previously displayed the guitar and now owns it outright.

“I am thrilled to preserve and protect another piece of American culture that changed the way we looked at world,” Irsay said of the purchase. “The fact that a portion of the proceeds will go toward our effort to kick the stigma surrounding mental health makes this acquisition even more special to me.”

The Cobain family are set to donate a portion of the proceeds from the sale to the Colts’ Kicking The Stigma campaign about mental health awareness.

Kurt Cobain
A still from Nirvana’s music video for ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. Credit: YouTube.

Cobain spoke highly of Mustangs, calling them his favourite guitar in a ’91 interview with Guitar World.

“I’m left-handed, and it’s not very easy to find reasonably priced, high-quality left-handed guitars,” Cobain told the publication. “But out of all the guitars in the whole world, the Fender Mustang is my favourite.”

In a press statement, Julien’s Auctions president and CEO Darren Julien commented that it had been “one of our greatest privileges and most distinguished honours” to be able to auction the guitar.

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

Ahead of the auction, the guitar was displayed for a week at the Hard Rock Cafe in London, where fans could visit it for free.

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