When the owner of Rodes Microphones paid almost $9 million for a guitar owned and used by Nirvana founder Kurt Cobain, it was a seismic shift in the value of music collectibles and memorabilia.
The guitar in question was the Martin D-18E acoustic used by Cobain on the famous 1993 MTV Unplugged performance in New York. This was purchased by the founder of Rode Microphones, Peter Freedman, for $US6 million ($8.8 million).
Mr Freedman’s reasons for spending so much on the iconic guitar were simple. He wanted to preserve music history and make it accessible to all – not just sit in some rich person’s mansion.
“I would have paid $40 million if I had to – I have a house, clothes and food, so what do I need the money for?” he said.
The most famous rock and roll memorabilia of all time
While the Nirvana guitar is by far the most expensive slice of rock and roll memorabilia to ever go under the hammer, there have been several other iconic pieces of music memorabilia sell for millions, including:
John Lennon’s 1965 Rolls Royce Phantom V – $2.9 million
It should come as no surprise that the kings of pop, The Beatles, dominate this list. The Rolls Royce Phantom V is the most expensive and luxurious car ever made. John Lennon designed it in 1965 and had a passion for cars from an early age. He loved to drive his new Phantom V around London with friends like Eric Clapton and George Harrison.
John Lennon’s Piano – $2.1 million
This piano was used by John when he was composing the hit song Imagine. George Martin paid around $2.1 million for it in an auction in 2000. It is currently on display at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum, Cleveland, Ohio, USA.
Bob Dylan’s Like a Rolling Stone lyrics – $2 million
The song was written by Bob Dylan in 1965 and is considered one of his most famous songs. It has been covered by many artists, including U2, Guns N’ Roses and Bruce Springsteen. The lyrics have also been used in other media such as movies and TV shows.
The draft to this famous song sold for around $2 million in 2014 at a Sotheby’s auction. This is the most expensive music manuscript in the world. It features four sheets of hotel stationery and is written in pencil.
Michael Jackson’s red leather jacket from Thriller – $1.8 million
The Thriller Jacket is one of the most iconic pieces of clothing in pop culture. The song has been called “the greatest pop music video ever made” by Rolling Stone, and features Michael Jackson dancing with zombies.
A Day in The Life handwritten lyrics by John Lennon – $1.35 million
The song was written in 1967, and it’s considered one of the greatest songs ever recorded. The sheet contains Lennon’s rough draft of the final piece on 1967’s Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, including various revisions, written with a felt marker and ballpoint pen. It also includes Lennon’s signature at the bottom right corner.
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