Entertainment: Kurt Cobain's blue guitar in Nirvana's 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' video to be sold at auction

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By Omar Younis

FILE PHOTO: Iconic and rare memorabilia of the late Kurt Cobain are on display at the © Reuters/Anthony Bolante FILE PHOTO: Iconic and rare memorabilia of the late Kurt Cobain are on display at the "Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses" exhibit at the Experience Music Project in Seattle

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (Reuters) - The iconic blue guitar Kurt Cobain rocked out with in Nirvana’s seminal 90s "Smells Like Teen Spirit" music video is expected to fetch up to $800,000 when it goes up for auction next month.

With "Smells Like Teen Spirit" racking up more than 1.4 billion views on YouTube, the 1969 blue Fender is arguably one of the most famous in rock, said Martin Nolan, executive director of Julien’s Auctions.

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"This is one of the most iconic guitars ever to come to the auction block, this is the blue Mustang Fender guitar, one of Kurt Cobain's favorite guitars of all time," said Nolan, standing beside a display of Kurt Cobain memorabilia at Julien’s Auction’s Beverly Hills showroom.


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a close up of a plate: This blue 7″ with a purple and gold sleeve has an amusing story behind it. In 1978, EMI Records held a dinner party to celebrate the fact that the label had won an award from the Queen of England. Since the band Queen had been a major contributor to this success and its name provided a fun play on words, EMI pressed a limited run of 200 promo copies of the single, which are now worth about £2,000 (US$2,500/CA$3,500) in the original sleeve.

"The guitar comes with its original case and, also, the guitar strap, so that's ... really important to collectors when they come to the auction to know the originality," said Nolan, who noted that the guitar has stayed with the family since Cobain's death in 1994.

The Cobain guitar is the star lot in the auction house’s Music Icons auction, taking place in New York and online from May 20-22.

Nolan said the auction house has conservatively estimated a price range for the guitar of $600,000 to $800,000 but noted "that's a very conservative auction estimate."

The auction house said a portion of the proceeds would go to a mental health charity.

The auction also features other items, including an original Kurt Cobain artwork of Michael Jackson, that is expected to fetch up to $40,000 (USD) and one of his cars, a 1965 Dodge Dart, expected to fetch between $400,000 to $600,000.

(Reporting by Omar Younis; Editing by Diane Craft)

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