Kurt Cobain’s stage played and smashed guitar is up for auction as a part of Julien’s Auctions Music Icons 2018. The Aria Pro II Cardinal Series, which Earnie Baily (Cobain’s guitar tech) says may have been Cobain’s favorite guitar at the time, was used throughout Nirvana’s 1990 summer tour. It was first played at The Masquerade in Atlanta, May 6, 1990. At the Motorsports International Garage Show in Seattle, on September 22, 1990, Cobain played his Mosrite Gospel guitar for the majority of the set, but for the climatic last song, he switched to the Aria. While Dan Peters of Mudhoney played drums, (Nirvana’s future drummer Dave Grohl was also in attendance), Cobain spun the Aria in the air and juggled it for several minutes, but then, without warning, he smashed the guitar repeatedly, breaking the body and the neck.
Richard Newland, who was working security at the event, picked up the guitar. After the show, Cobain asked if he could remove the pickups from the guitar, leaving it in its current state. Two string remnants are still on the guitar. “Nirvana” has also been carved into the back, presumably by Cobain himself. The guitar was sent on tour in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, Brazil, as a part of the Museum of Pop Culture in June through December of 2017. It then went on display in the museum’s “Nirvana: Taking Punk to the Masses” exhibit in Seattle, from 2011 to 2017.