Kurt Cobain's "MTV Unplugged" Martin Sells for $6.1 Million, Prince's "Blue Angel" Cloud for $563,500

This weekend, the late great Prince's original Cloud 2 "Blue Angel" guitar was sold at auction for $563,500, while Kurt Cobain's 1959 Martin D-18E—the exact guitar he played on his now-iconic MTV Unplugged performance—sold for $6.1 Million.

Both items sold as major highlight in Julien's Auction's latest Music Icons auction, which took place in Beverley Hills and live online this Friday and Saturday.

Prince's original Cloud 2 sports a light blue/teal finish (which is how it got its affectionate "Blue Angel" nickname), but it started its life with an all-white body—or, as Prince saw it, something of a blank canvas.

While in his possession—from 1984 until the time that Andy Beech began making Prince's Cloud guitars in '93—the Cloud 2 was also painted peach, light blue, and yellow, and it served as the star's primary performance instrument.

Over the years that Prince owned it, the Cloud 2 was his primary Cloud performance guitar—and it has the battle scars to prove it. The neck was cracked from between the sixth and seventh frets up to the headstock. It came housed in a custom purple Calzone case, with a stenciled "C1" marking and the address to Paisley Park.

For more on the guitar's history, visit the Julien's Auction website here. There, you can find a list of on what stages the guitar has been played and of all of its various repairs and finish changes—compiled with help from and consultation with Cloud guitar researcher John Woodland.


Though Cobain's 1959 Martin D-18E was only seen on stage during Unplugged, it's become of one of his recognizable guitars due to that performance's stature in the lure of the band. If the Unplugged show was a kind of self-portrait, "perhaps the most important decision Cobain made for his MTV Unplugged performance was the 'brush' he chose to paint" it, the listing on Julien's website reads.

"The 'brush' chosen by Cobain was his 1959 Martin D-18E guitar, and it was the only guitar he used throughout the entire MTV Unplugged performance. Cobain purchased this guitar and its vintage hardshell case at Voltage Guitars in Los Angeles. Both the guitar and its case were personally customized, by Cobain, prior to his MTV appearance."

"... Cobain was known for smashing guitars on stage and wreaking havoc with instruments used by the band in their live performances. In contrast, after driving the last song of their MTV Unplugged performance with a primal howling, Cobain held his Martin D-18E guitar with reverence."

The buyer of Cobain's acoustic is Peter Freedman, founder of RØDE Microphones.

In a press release following the auction, Freedman said the acoustic would be displayed in a worldwide tour of exhibitions, with proceeds going to musicians and performing arts groups affected by coronavirus closures.

"The arts, and organisations that support the arts, are remarkably undervalued and underfunded by many governments around the world, considering their cultural and economic importance," Freedman said. "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."

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