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Røde Mics Founder Nets Nirvana Guitar For $6M

The acoustic guitar used by the late Kurt Cobain for Nirvana’s ‘MTV Unplugged’ session was purchased at auction by Rode founder Peter Freedman for $6 million.

The acoustic guitar used by the late Kurt Cobain for Nirvana’s ‘MTV Unplugged’ session was purchased at auction by Rode founder Peter Freedman for $6 milllion.
The acoustic guitar used by the late Kurt Cobain for Nirvana’s ‘MTV Unplugged’ session was purchased at auction by Rode founder Peter Freedman for $6 million. Julien's Auctions

Los Angeles, CA (June 22, 2020)—To date, Rode Microphones has been best known for its microphones and podcasting gear, but that changed Saturday, when the Australian company’s founder, Peter Freedman, purchased Kurt Cobain’s 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic guitar at auction for a record-breaking $6,010,000 US.

Rode founder Peter Freedman with the Nirvana guitar.
Rode founder Peter Freedman with the Nirvana guitar.

The Nirvana guitar was the sole instrument Cobain played during Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged taping on November 18, 1993, five months before his death. While the program was a hit when it aired, the subsequent album derived from the show, MTV Unplugged in New York, debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard charts the following year, going on to sell more than 8 million copies since its release.

Freedman’s winning bid was in fact $5 million, but with the auction’s buyer’s premium, the total spent was $6.010 million. Auctioned with an initial reserve of $1 million, the guitar also came with its original hard-shell case, which included a flyer for punk band Poison Idea’s 1990 album, ‘Feel the Darkness’, three 60 mm Dunlop guitar picks, a partial set of Martin & Co. guitar strings, and a small black velvet pouch containing a silvertone knife, fork, and spoon.

The purchase marked a new record for the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction; the previous record holder was Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour’s 1969 black Fender Stratocaster, which sold at auction exactly a year earlier for $3,975,000.

Freedman said in a statement that he’ll display the guitar around the world in galleries and art spaces, with all proceeds going to the performing arts. Whether that itinerary will include tradeshows where Røde is exhibiting was not mentioned.

New Rodecaster Pro Firmware Released

“When I heard that this iconic guitar was up for auction,” Mr. Freedman noted, “I immediately knew it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to secure it and use it as a vehicle to spotlight the struggles that those in the performing arts are facing and have always faced.”

Citing the economic and emotional difficulties that the current pandemic has brought to the music industry, Freedman noted, “The toll this has taken and will continue to take is enormous and requires more than just lip service. It requires action now, and I am a man of action. The arts, and organizations that support the arts, are remarkably undervalued and underfunded by many governments around the world, considering their cultural and economic importance. I saw buying this guitar as an opportunity to not only share it with music fans, but to do so in a way that raises awareness for the struggles that musicians and artists face every day, and lobby governments for change.”

Røde Microphones • www.rode.com

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