The War Over Kurt Cobain’s “Unplugged” Guitar

Remember the acoustic guitar Kurt Cobain played during the MTV Unplugged performance? If this thing were to ever come up for auction, it would be worth tens of thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands of dollars. This is why the current war over ownership of the guitar is so important–and, frankly, sordid. From AV Club:

In the most depressing story about the handling of Kurt Cobain’s legacy since the last one, a war is currently brewing over the guitar the late Nirvana frontman played during the 1993 taping of MTV Unplugged. The guitar in question, a 1959 Martin D-18E, was passed down from Courtney Love to daughter Frances Bean Cobain after Kurt’s death. And it’s since become the epicenter of a nastily public divorce between Frances and her estranged husband, Eeries singer Isaiah Silva, who claims Frances gave him the guitar as a wedding gift—something both Love and her daughter have denied—and now refuses to give it back. It’s an ugly situation, though one that Love, with typical Loveian aplomb, has found a way to make even uglier by getting Sam Lufti involved.

Trawlers of celebrity muck may recognize Lufti as the leech that always seems to be lurking in its most turbulent waters, attaching itself to celebrities—primarily women—in the midst of deep personal crisis. Lufti first oozed his way into the fringes of the spotlight when he took despotic control of Britney Spears’ life during the midst of her mid-’00s meltdown, eventually leading to restraining orders, lawsuits, and Spears’ father wresting control from Lufti by means of lifetime conservatorship. Since then, he’s insinuated himself, to varying degrees of success, into the lives of other troubled, vulnerable female celebrities likeAmanda Bynes and Lindsay Lohan (prompting Lohan to get the FBI involved), before he finally landed the grande dame of perpetual fuck-ups, Courtney Love, and became her manager. And now Love has hired Lufti once again, hoping to put his harassment skills to good use in intimidating Silva and his family until the treasured guitar, valued at millions, is returned.

The sad story continues here.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

One thought on “The War Over Kurt Cobain’s “Unplugged” Guitar

  • July 18, 2016 at 12:25 pm

    Since you know Courtney, I’m curious what your take on this is, especially the Lufti angle. He’s just bad news all around.


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