Kurt Cobain‘s 1959 Martin D-18E guitar — which he played during Nirvana‘s iconic MTV Unplugged special — was auctioned off last weekend for just over $6 million, the most ever spent on a guitar at auction. The buyer was Peter Freedman, founder of RØDE Microphones, who plans to tour the guitar worldwide to raise money for COVID-19 relief in the performing arts community.
As Freedman tells ABC Audio, while he is a Nirvana fan, his main goal in purchasing the famed guitar was to raise awareness for that cause.
“I thought, symbolically, if I can pull this off, this is the thing [to do],” Freedman explains. “‘Cause I could come up with a hundred million dollars or something — it’d just disappear. It’s not gonna do anything.”
He adds, “Now you do this, I got the world’s attention. I’m in every bit of press everywhere.”
Freedman also hopes to use the guitar in music-education spaces, and even give students the opportunity to play it themselves.
Beyond its significance in music history, the guitar was also at the center of a bitter divorce battle between Kurt’s daughter, Frances Bean Cobain, and her ex-husband Isaiah Silva, with Silva ultimately coming away with it.
“I’m not involved with the family thing,” Freedman says. “I think they’ve resolved themselves to it. If anything, I think that they’re all happy that out of the mess — and it was messy — some good can come of it.”
Freedman adds that he’d be open to returning the guitar to Frances Bean and the Cobain family further down the road.
“If I met [Frances] and looked at her and went, ‘Wow, that’s your dad’s,’ and it really meant something, rather than just the coin, yeah, I’d just give it up,” he says.
By Josh Johnson
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