(Homage) Day two of Julien's Auctions blockbuster three-day music auction event "PLAYED, WORN, & TORN: ROCK 'N' ROLL ICONIC GUITARS AND MEMORABILIA" turned up to 20 on Friday, November 17th, with a second million-dollar guitar sale. On the heels of its $1.27 million sale of Eric Clapton's iconic "Fool" guitar, Julian's Auctions sold the highly anticipated "Skystang I," played by Kurt Cobain during his final public performance during Nirvana's 1993 - 1994 In Utero tour, for $1,587,500.
The guitar was acquired by Mitsuru Sato who bid via the phone at the auction held at Hard Rock Cafe Nashville. Sato, a Japan based businessman plans to open a cafe with museum style exhibitions to display the Skystang I, along with other famous musical instruments, giving access to the public to potentially engage with them. He commented, "I want to pass on rock to the next generation in a real way. We would like to use this guitar to support the next generation aiming to pursue music."
A portion of the auction proceeds of the Skystang I guitar will go towards "Kicking The Stigma," The Indianapolis Colts and Irsay Family's mental health awareness initiative.
"Throughout Julien's 20 years in the business, it has been our privilege and honor to represent rock's most historic and important artifacts and notably a lifetime achievement to have been entrusted in preserving the legacy of one of rock's most influential musicians and icons, Kurt Cobain," said Darren Julien, President/Chief Executive Officer of Julien's Auctions. "Today's sale of his beloved Skystang I Fender guitar played on his final show performance with Nirvana on the In Utero tour, as well as countless other legendary Nirvana performances, is another milestone for us and is especially poignant as the auction falls on this year's 30th anniversary of Nirvana's 1993 - 1994 In Utero tour."
This blue left-handed Fender Mustang electric guitar is the most well-documented and recognizable of all of the rock icon's stage played instruments. Previously owned by Kurt's brother, Chad Cobain, it comes with its original guitar strap and strings and has been on loan to Seattle's MoPOP since 2007 (then known as The Experience Music Project), where it went on display in 2009. Used for the majority of Nirvana's 1993-1994 tour dates, former Nirvana guitar technician Earnie Bailey refers to this Electric Blue Mustang as the Nirvana front man's "workhorse." From its In Utero stage debut on October 18th, 1993, at the Arizona State Fair Veteran's Memorial Coliseum, to the band's final performance on March 1,1994 at Terminal 1 in Munich, this storied guitar was used during 53 of the 63 In Utero tour performances and the band's final chapter.
In his final interview with Guitar World, Cobain called the Fender Mustang his "favorite" guitar model and in 1993 placed an order with Fender for ten left-handed Mustangs in preparation for the upcoming In Utero tour. Skystang I was delivered to Cobain in July of 1993 along with another Mustang in Fiesta Red, nicknamed "Oranj-Stang" - the guitar used during Nirvana's performance later that month at Roseland Ballroom.
Cobain's other items rocked the auction stage such as his photo-matched stage-worn "Heart-Shaped Box" video-worn and MTV Awards event-worn Levi's jeans which sold for $412,750, a new world record for the most expensive Levi jeans sold at auction, and over forty times its original estimate of $10,000; Cobain's owned and worn argyle cardigan sold for $13,000 (original estimate: $6,000 - $8,000; his unopened "American Spirit" cigarette pack sold for $5,200; his hand-drawn sketch and handwritten "Smells Like Teen Spirit" lyric notes sold for $91,000.