Australian music entrepreneur Peter Freedman was shaking when the auctioneer’s gavel dropped, making him the proud new owner of the world’s most expensive guitar, paying nearly $A9 million for Kurt Cobain’s iconic instrument.
Freedman, the Sydney-based founder and chairman of RODE Microphones, trumped rival bidders at an auction in Los Angeles on Saturday.
He told the PA news agency he was “scared shitless and shaking” at the conclusion of the auction but was proud to be able to use the guitar to support artists and is already thinking of what to do with it next.
“It’s a big deal. I didn’t even buy it for me. I paid for it but I’m going to use it to highlight the plight of artists worldwide by touring it around and then I’m going to sell it and use the dough for that as well, later.”
Freedman, whose family first opened an electronics shop in Sydney in 1967 said musicians and artists had supported his family since the 60s.
“We’ve been in that game forever so I’ve been very lucky with RODE and I’ve been able to give away lots of money, quite a few mill.”
There was no limit on what he would have paid, saying “I was going to get it”.
“There were some seriously rich people here and I suppose I could have been completely scared shitless and somebody who has got billions and billions just pays, what, twenty, thirty million? But I would have kept going.”
The huge sum for the late Nirvana frontman’s 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic guitar easily exceeded the previous record $A5.8 million paid last year for a black Stratocaster used by Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour.
Cobain, who died in 1994 aged 27, played the guitar during Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged session and other iconic concert performances.
The two-day auction, held by Julien’s Auctions in Beverly Hills, sold more than 800 music-related items including Elvis Presley’s 1977 Lincoln Mark V Coupe for $A91,443 and Johnny Cash’s Valencia acoustic guitar signed by his The Highwaymen supergroup members Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings for $A83,396 .
A custom guitar played by Prince at the height of his stardom in the 1980s and 1990s sold for $A824,000.