Historic Three-Day Auction Breaks Two World Records and Sees Back-to-Back Million Dollar Guitar Sales with Iconic and Legendary Guitars of Eric Clapton & Kurt Cobain

January 4, 2024

For Immediate Release


Historic Three-Day Auction Breaks Two World Records and Sees Back-to-Back Million Dollar Guitar Sales with Iconic and Legendary Guitars of Eric Clapton & Kurt Cobain


Eric Clapton’s “The Fool” Guitar Sold for $1.27 Million

Kurt Cobain’s “Skystang I” Sold for Nearly $1.6 Million

Julien’s Auctions Sets World Record with $412,750 Sale of Kurt Cobain’s Levi Jeans and $13,000 Sale of Cardigan

Items from the Life and Career of Legendary Artist Frank Zappa Sold for More Than 10 Times its Estimate During Final Day of Auction, Including Zappa’s “Captain Beefheart” Original Artwork Sold at $32,500, an Impressive 65 Times its Original Estimate

Inaugural Nashville Auction Sees Record Number of Bidders for Julien’s Auctions

Over 1,000 Pieces of Music History Rocked the Stage at

Hard Rock®, Nashville

Nashville, Tennessee – (November 18, 2023) Julien's Auctions, the industry’s leading rock n’ roll memorabilia auction house, made its inaugural visit to Music City and held a historic three-day auction “PLAYED, WORN, & TORN ROCK ‘N’ ROLL ICONIC GUITARS AND MEMORIBILIA AUCTION” Thursday, November 16th, Friday, November 17th and Saturday November 18th at Hard Rock®, Nashville.Featuring a spectacular line-up of over 1,000 pieces of music history from rock royalty owned and used by the likes of Kurt Cobain, Nirvana, Elvis Presley, The Beatles, Eddie Van Halen, Frank Zappa, KISS, Mötley Crüe, and more, history was made in front of a room full of bidders at the Hard Rock, Nashville, and several thousand registered bidders online, and on the phone, resulting in the largest number of registrants of all mixed music sales Julien’s Auctions has ever conducted in its twenty-year history.

The headlining items at the auction were two iconic guitars that sold in unprecedented back-to-back million-dollar sales. On Thursday, Eric Clapton’s iconic "The Fool" guitar sold for $1.27 million to The Jim Irsay Collection in Indianapolis, making the sale the first time a Clapton guitar has sold for seven figures at auction and set a world record for the sale of a Clapton guitar. On Friday, Kurt Cobain’s “Skystang I” Fender Mustang electric guitar played by Kurt Cobain during his final public performance during Nirvana's 1993 - 1994 In Utero tour, was acquired by Japan-based businessman Mitsuru Sato for $1,587,500. A portion of the auction proceeds for both guitars will go towards "Kicking The Stigma," The Indianapolis Colts and Irsay Family's mental health awareness initiative.

On Friday, the sale of Kurt Cobain's photo-matched stage-worn "Heart-Shaped Box" video-worn and MTV Awards event-worn Levi's jeans sold for $412,750, 40 times over its original estimate of $10,000, setting a new world record for the most expensive Levi jeans ever sold at auction. Additional Cobain items included his owned and worn argyle cardigan sold for $13,000 (original estimate: $6,000 - $8,000); unopened "American Spirit" cigarette pack sold for $5,200, and hand-drawn sketch and handwritten "Smells Like Teen Spirit" lyric notes sold for $91,000.

During the final day of the auction, items from the life and career of legendary artist Frank Zappa sold upwards of 10 times their estimates including Zappa’s antique Crane & Sons pump organ sold for $5,850, 11 times its estimate of $500; Captain Beefheart Original Artwork sold at $32,500, an impressive 65 times its original estimate of $500.

“Julien’s Played, Worn and Torn auction event was another one for the record books in our twenty years in the industry–a historic auction that set two world records,” said Darren Julien, President/Chief Executive Officer of Julien’s Auctions. “Two of the most important guitars in all of rock history, Eric Clapton’s ‘The Fool,’ and Kurt Cobain’s Skystang I guitar, were sold this weekend that brought in the most record number of bidders from all over the world. We thank the city of Nashville and all the organizations who worked with us here for having us in our inaugural auction in Music City to celebrate our 20th anniversary.”

Additional stellar highlights of three-day auction included (winning bids with buyer’s premium):

  • Johnny Cash's owned Gibson Epiphone PR325S acoustic guitar played at a dinner for Joaquin Phoenix who would go on to play the Man in Black in the film Walk the Line: $63,500, nearly 20 times its original estimate of $3,000 - $5,000.
  • Frank Zappa's first owned guitar– a stage and studio played "Mothers of Invention" Gibson ES5 Switchmaster electric guitar: $63,500 (sold above estimate of $20,000-$30,000)
  • Dolly Parton's 1970s custom made, and stage worn cape: $10,160, sold five times its original estimate of $2,000-$3,000
  • Dizzy Gillespie's Martin Committee trumpet: $76,200, sold above estimate of $30,000-$50,000
  • Eddie Van Halen's Stage-Played Hand-Striped Charvel EVH Series Electric Guitar: $117,000, sold nearly three times above its original estimate of $40,000 - $60,000
  • Albert King's "Lucy" 1988 Flying V Style custom electric guitar gifted to the Blues Icon on his 65th Birthday by ZZ Top Legend Billy Gibbons: $63,500, sold above estimate of $40,000 - $60,000
  • Janis Joplin's 1967 Monterey Pop Festival stage-worn "Ball and Chain" amber ring: $76,200, sold nearly seven times above estimate of $10,000 - $20,000
  • Keith Richards' Rolling Stones band signed 1999 Fender Classic Series '69 Thinline Telecaster electric guitar sold for $45,500
  • Alec John Such (Bon Jovi) 1988 Kramer Baretta 1 "Bon Jovi-New Jersey" Knapp electric guitar sold for $39,000, over nine times its original estimate of $4,000
  • Slash's Guns N' Roses band signed and "Use Your Illusion" stage worn leather jacket sold for $28,575 and Slash's 2022 Stage Played Gibson Gives Ukraine Relief Les Paul electric guitar sold for $50,800

The week-long Nashville festivities kicked-off with Julien's Auctions’ 4th annual Music Health Alliance "Lyrics for A Cause" charity auction where music fans and collectors alike had the chance to bid on more than 50 handwritten lyrics written on mediums from paper to guitars as well as signed guitars donated by Gibson - the iconic American-made instrument brand's charitable arm - Gibson Gives, with proceeds benefiting Music Health Alliance. In total, $104,338.50 (with BP) was raised for the non-profit organization that provides safe and confidential guidance to gain access to healthcare, including mental health services.

Next, Julien’s will be heading to Dallas to present the Collection of Dusty Hill of ZZ Top with an auction exhibition and pop-up store of the legendary musician’s iconic bass guitars, wardrobe and memorabilia December 7-9, 2023, with an exhibition startingNovember 29th-December 7th before its auction at 915 Slocum Street in Dallas, Texas.


Collaborating with the famous and the exclusive, Julien’s Auctions produces high profile auctions in the film, music, sports and art markets. Julien’s Auctions has received international recognition for its unique and innovative auction events, which attract thousands of collectors, investors, fans and enthusiasts from around the world. Julien’s Auctions specializes in sales of iconic artifacts and notable collections including Marilyn Monroe, John Lennon, Ringo Starr, Lady Gaga, Banksy, Cher, Michael Jackson, U2, Barbra Streisand, Les Paul, Neil Young, Elvis Presley, Frank Sinatra, Jimi Hendrix, Hugh Hefner and many more.

In 2016, Julien’s Auctions received its second placement in the Guinness Book of World Records for the sale of the world’s most expensive dress ever sold at auction, The Marilyn Monroe “Happy Birthday Mr. President” dress which sold for $4.8 million. Julien’s Auctions achieved placement in the Guinness Book of World Records in 2009 for the sale of Michael Jackson’s white glove, which sold for $480,000 making it the most expensive glove ever sold at auction and two years later, sold Michael Jackson’s jacket from “Thriller” for $1.8 million. In 2020, Julien’s Auctions received its third Guinness Book of World Record placement for the sale of Kurt Cobain’s “MTV Unplugged” 1959 Martin D-18E acoustic-electricguitar, which sold for $6 million making it the world’s most expensive guitar ever sold at auction. In 2022, Julien’s Auctions sold the world’s second most expensive guitar ever sold at auction in the sale of Kurt Cobain’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” music video 1969 Fender Mustang electric guitar, which sold for $4.5 million. Based in Los Angeles, Julien’s Auctions has a global presence bringing their auctions and exhibitions to targeted destinations worldwide including London, New York, Las Vegas, Japan and China. Live auctions are presented for bidders on-site and online via live streaming video and mobile technology. For more information on Julien’s Auctions, go to Connect with Julien’s Auctions at or or

About Hard Rock®:

Hard Rock International (HRI) is one of the most globally recognized companies with venues in over 70 countries spanning 290 locations that include owned/licensed or managed Hotels, Casinos, Rock Shops®, Live Performance Venues and Cafes. HRI also launched a joint venture named Hard Rock Digital in 2020, an online sportsbook, retail sportsbook and internet gaming platform. Beginning with an Eric Clapton guitar, Hard Rock owns the world’s largest and most valuable collection of authentic music memorabilia at more than 87,000 pieces, which are displayed at its locations around the globe. In 2023, Hard Rock Hotels was honored by J.D. Power’s North America Hotel Guest Satisfaction Study as the number one brand in Outstanding Guest Satisfaction for the fourth time over the last five years. Hard Rock was also honored by Forbes among the World’s Best Employers, as well as Best Employers for Women, Diversity and New Grads, Best Brands for social impact, Customer Service All-Star and a Top Large Employer in the Travel & Leisure, Gaming, and Entertainment Industry. HRI became the first privately-owned gaming company designated a U.S. Best Managed Company by Deloitte Private and The Wall Street Journal in 2021, and has since been honored threefold. In the 2022 Global Gaming Awards, Hard Rock was named Land-Based Operator of the Year for the second time in four years. In 2021, Hard Rock Hotels & Casinos received first place ranking in the Casino Gaming Executive Satisfaction Survey conducted by Bristol Associates Inc. and Spectrum Gaming Group for six of the last seven years. Hard Rock International currently holds investment grades from primary investment rating agencies: S&P Global Ratings (BBB) and Fitch Ratings (BBB). For more information on Hard Rock International, visit or


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