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Kurt Cobain's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" Music Video Guitar Sells for $4.5 Million to the Jim Irsay Collection

Kurt Cobain’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” Music Video Guitar Sells for $4.5 Million to the Jim Irsay Collection

Image: Julien's Auctions
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NEW YORK (CelebrityAccess) – Julien’s Auctions music auction event, MUSIC ICONS, was held Friday, Saturday, and Sunday (May 20 – 22), resulting in the sale of Kurt Cobain’s electric guitar that changed music. Cobain’s 1969 Fender Mustang electric guitar played in Nirvana’s global smash hit “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” and its 1991 music video sold for $4.5 million, surpassing the original estimate of $600,000.

The Jim Irsay Collection now owns the guitar in Indianapolis after a phone and online bidding war from collectors and bidders worldwide. In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month, the Irsay family is donating a portion of the proceeds of the legendary guitar to Kicking The Stigma, the Irsays’ initiative to raise awareness about mental health disorders and remove the stigma associated with these illnesses. Kicking the Stigma has committed over $16 million to local and national organizations to expand treatment and research and raise awareness in Indiana and beyond.

Irsay, the owner and CEO of the NFL’s Indianapolis Colts, said, “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.”

Cobain considered this 1969 Fender Mustang left-handed guitar one of his favorite go-to guitars and said in his final interview with Guitar World: “I’m left-handed, and it’s not very easy to find reasonably priced high-quality left-handed guitars. But out of all the guitars in the whole world, the Fender Mustang is my favorite. I’ve only owned two of them.”

Julien’s Auctions made headlines worldwide by selling Cobain’s “MTV Unplugged” 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic-electric guitar, which sold in 2020 for $6 million – making it the world’s most expensive guitar ever sold at auction. Julien’s has broken records with the sale of Cobain’s memorabilia, including the cardigan worn on MTV Unplugged in New York ($334,000) and the In Utero tour Fender Mustang guitar ($340,000).

Other notable auction highlights included:

  • Chris Cornell’s 1980 Gibson Les Paul Deluxe electric guitar ($76,800)
  • Elvis Presley’s 1972 32-diamond nugget ring with “EP” initials ($75,000)
  • 17 pages of handwritten lyrics, doodles, and other personal notes by Guns N’ Roses’ Axl Rose ($38,400)
  • Madonna’s 1984 Material Girl music video ensemble ($287,500)
  • Johnny Cash’s 1956 Martin D-21 Acoustic guitar ($437,500)
  • Amy Winehouse’s Herve Leger brand figure-hugging bandage dress ($18,750)
  • Prince’s 14k white gold-toned “NPG” necklace ($25,000)
  • Springsteen’s handwritten “Born to Run” lyrics ($44,800)

ORIGINAL STORY BELOW – Published May 7, 2022

INDIANAPOLIS (CelebrityAccess) – The owner and CEO of the Indianapolis Colts, Jim Irsay, and Family will kick off May’s Mental Health Awareness Month by partnering with Julien’s Auctions to bring Kurt Cobain’s iconic guitar used in Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video, to the auction.

The starting estimate for the guitar is $600,000 to $800,000. A portion of the auction proceeds will benefit Kicking the Stigma, the Irsays’ campaign to raise awareness about mental health disorders and remove the stigma associated with those illnesses.


The Irsay family’s initiative has raised nearly $20 million in less than three years for local Indianapolis and national organizations – because the issue hits close to home. Multi-millionaire and Colts owner Jim Irsay has had well-documented problems with substance abuse, which often clumps together with mental illness, a vicious cycle, which not treated eventually leads to .. well, we know where. Irsay’s daughter, Kalen Jackson, had this to say during a podcast:

“One of the biggest problems is the stigma of reaching out and seeking help. People think it’s their fault and they’re not deserving of help. That’s one of the biggest reasons suicide has increased and substance abuse disorder has increased. … Definitely our personal experience through what (my dad) experienced, and also we have a lot of family and friends who’ve experienced the same things.”

Julien’s will be placing the 1969 Fender electric guitar and other Cobain / Nirvana items up for auction as part of its three-day “MUSIC ICONS” event, live at the Hard Rock Cafe Times Square, New York City, and online (May 20-22). Before the historic auction took place, the guitar had been on tour in London, Beverly Hills, Indianapolis, and finally, New York.

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