Kurt Cobain’s ‘Unplugged’ Sweater Heads to Auction Again, Never Been Washed
For the second time in four years, the iconic green cardigan worn by Kurt Cobain during Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged performance will head to the auction block. And, before you ask, yes, it has never been washed.
“It’s very important that we don’t wash it,” Darren Julien of Julien’s Auctions told Rolling Stone. “The stains are still there. There’s even cigarettes burns that you can see on the sweater.”
The current owner, a businessman who prefers to remains anonymous, kept the piece stored in acid-free tissue in a safe. The auction house now has it stashed in similar tissue and a plastic case.
In November 2015, Cobain’s Manhattan brand sweater — “a blend of acrylic, mohair and Lycra with five-button closure (one button absent), with two exterior pockets, a burn hole and discoloration near left pocket and discoloration on right pocket” — sold for $137,500 through Julien’s Auctions, far exceeding the sweater’s pre-auction estimate of $60,000.
The sweater will return to the Julien’s block once again on October 25th with a pre-auction minimum bid set for $200,000; according to the Julien’s listing, that minimum bid has already been matched, with Cobain’s cardigan expected to reach bids of upwards of $300,000.
“Rock & roll memorabilia has become an investment,” Julien said. “It’s not just a collector’s market — it’s an investor’s market. The person that bought the sweater in 2015 bought it as an investment. Now, because we’ve been getting record prices for Kurt Cobain, people are starting to sell it. We anticipate that it will sell for more than double. I call it the new fine art market. People are investing more and more in pop culture, especially rock & roll. It’s a way to diversify their portfolios.”
Like the 2015 auction, the sweater comes with a handwritten letter of provenance from Jackie Farry, Frances Bean Cobain’s nanny and a close friend of Courtney Love, who gifted Farry with the sweater following Cobain’s death in April 1994.
It’s unknown who anonymously purchased the cardigan at auction in 2015, but Julien admitted it was a businessman that was a fan of Cobain’s; despite the fandom, the 2015 buyer always intended on re-auctioning the sweater. “He said it was an investment and that he would come back [to Julien’s] in some point in time when the time is right,” Julien said.
Julien’s Live’s Icons and Idols auction will also feature one of the custom-built guitars Cobain used during Nirvana’s In Utero tour accompanied by a letter from Courtney Love that notes that the instrument was among Cobain’s favorites. The pre-auction estimate for the left-handed Fender Mustang guitar in turquoise with red mottled pickguard is between $300,000 to $500,000.
The October 25th and 26th auction also features handwritten lyrics by artists like Bob Dylan, Bruce Springsteen, Aretha Franklin and Eric Clapton, including a working draft of “Layla.”
Earlier this year, a sweater worn by Cobain during his final Nirvana photoshoot sold for $75,000 at auction.
Additional reporting by Brenna Ehrlich
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