CULTURE

Kurt Cobain’s Sweater, Last Washed in the ’90s, Has Sold for $334,000

It’s officially the most expensive sweater to ever sell at auction.


Frank Micelotta Archive/Getty Images

In 2015, a sweater belonging to the late Kurt Cobain made headlines when it sold for a whopping $137,500. And while only four years have passed since then, that number already seems like a bargain. As of this past weekend, it’s now the most expensive sweater to ever sell at auction—never mind that it’s a moth-eaten blend of acrylic, Lycra, and mohair complete with a burn hole, a stain that a previous owner once ventured could be chocolate or vomit, and a missing button. Nor the fact that it hasn’t been washed since Cobain died, in April of 1994.

And yet, when the custom-made Fender Mustang that Cobain brought on Nirvana’s 1993 tour for In Utero went for $340,000 at the so-called “Icons & Idols: Rock ‘N’ Roll” auction in New York on Saturday, Cobain’s sweater wasn’t far behind. This time around, it fetched $334,000—well more than double what it went for four years ago. (The apparently ecstatic president of Julien’s Auction, which sold the sweater, described it as the “holy grail.”)

As for how the sweater accumulated such value—and a legacy that stretches from the title of a Pains of Being Pure at Heart song to a comprehensive history in Rolling Stone? It was the same sweater that Cobain wore when he and the rest of the band recorded Nirvana’s live album MTV Unplugged in New York, which eschews hits in favor of covers of David Bowie, Lead Belly, and the Vaselines. By the time that Cobain died a year later, in 1994, it had already adopted a clear significance: Courtney Love gave the sweater to Jackie Farry, Frances Bean Cobain’s first nanny. She had planned to give it Frances in her will, but, like another piece of Unplugged memorabilia, it might never make it into the hands of Cobain’s 27-year-old daughter: After 10 years of battling cancer, Farry was forced to sell the sweater to pay for her medical bills.

Related: Kurt Cobain’s Nirvana “Unplugged” Guitar Is Awarded to Frances Bean Cobain’s Ex in Her Divorce

Revisit Grunge’s Glory Days With Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love

Courtney Love, date unknown. Photographed by Clay Patrick McBride and featured in the exhibition “Grunge: Rise of a Generation,” curated by Marcelle Murdock and Casey Fannin-Kaplan. On view at Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York, Maui, and Los Angeles from March 8 through 31, 2019.

© Clay Patrick McBride/Morrison Hotel Gallery

Pearl Jam performing in Seattle, Washington, 1992. Photographed by Amy Rachlin and featured in the exhibition “Grunge: Rise of a Generation,” curated by Marcelle Murdock and Casey Fannin-Kaplan. On view at Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York, Maui, and Los Angeles from March 8 through 31, 2019.

© Amy Rachlin/Morrison Hotel Gallery

Kurt Cobain in New York City, 1993. Photographed by Jesse Frohman and featured in the exhibition “Grunge: Rise of a Generation,” curated by Marcelle Murdock and Casey Fannin-Kaplan. On view at Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York, Maui, and Los Angeles from March 8 through 31, 2019.

© Jesse Frohman/Morrison Hotel Gallery

Chris Cornell at Lollapalooza in Kitsap County, Washington, 1992. Photographed by Lance Mercer and featured in the exhibition “Grunge: Rise of a Generation,” curated by Marcelle Murdock and Casey Fannin-Kaplan. On view at Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York, Maui, and Los Angeles from March 8 through 31, 2019.

© Lance Mercer/Morrison Hotel Gallery

Eddie Vedder and Chris Cornell backstage at Lollapalooza in Seattle, Washington, 1992. Photographed by Lance Mercer and featured in the exhibition “Grunge: Rise of a Generation,” curated by Marcelle Murdock and Casey Fannin-Kaplan. On view at Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York, Maui, and Los Angeles from March 8 through 31, 2019.

© Lance Mercer/Morrison Hotel Gallery

Kurt Cobain at the Los Angeles Forum, 1993. Photographed by Henry Diltz and featured in the exhibition “Grunge: Rise of a Generation,” curated by Marcelle Murdock and Casey Fannin-Kaplan. On view at Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York, Maui, and Los Angeles from March 8 through 31, 2019.

© Henry Diltz/Morrison Hotel Gallery

Sonic Youth performing at CBGB in New York City, 1986. Photographed by Ebet Roberts and featured in the exhibition “Grunge: Rise of a Generation,” curated by Marcelle Murdock and Casey Fannin-Kaplan. On view at Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York, Maui, and Los Angeles from March 8 through 31, 2019.

© Ebet Roberts/Morrison Hotel Gallery

Pearl Jam performing in Seattle, Washington, 1992. Photographed by Lance Mercer and featured in the exhibition “Grunge: Rise of a Generation,” curated by Marcelle Murdock and Casey Fannin-Kaplan. On view at Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York, Maui, and Los Angeles from March 8 through 31, 2019.

© Lance Mercer/Morrison Hotel Gallery

L7 at Lollapalooza in Mountain View, California, 1994. Photographed by Jay Blakesberg and featured in the exhibition “Grunge: Rise of a Generation,” curated by Marcelle Murdock and Casey Fannin-Kaplan. On view at Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York, Maui, and Los Angeles from March 8 through 31, 2019.

© Jay Blakesberg/Morrison Hotel Gallery

Kurt Cobain in New York City, 1993. Photographed by Jesse Frohman and featured in the exhibition “Grunge: Rise of a Generation,” curated by Marcelle Murdock and Casey Fannin-Kaplan. On view at Morrison Hotel Gallery in New York, Maui, and Los Angeles from March 8 through 31, 2019.

© Jesse Frohman/Morrison Hotel Gallery
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