INDIANAPOLIS — The Jim Irsay Collection, based in Indianapolis, has acquired the late Kurt Cobain’s iconic guitar used in the band Nirvana’s iconic "Smells Like Teen Spirit" music video.
Nirvana’s breakout hit became an anthem for Generation X and rock's grunge era of the 1990s, and eventually earned its place as one of rock's greatest songs and music videos of all time. The video was released Sept. 29, 1991, on MTV and propelled the band into superstar status.
The blue Fender Mustang electric guitar was on tour in Beverly Hills, London and Indianapolis before making its way to Hard Rock Cafe Times Square in New York for auction over the weekend, where Irsay added it to his expanding collection.
Cobain's family donated a portion of proceeds to Kicking The Stigma, Irsay's initiative to raise awareness about mental health. The Irsays have committed $16 million to the team's mental health initiative.
“I am thrilled to preserve and protect another piece of American culture that changed the way we listened to and looked at the world,” said Colts owner Jim Irsay. “The fact that a portion of the proceeds will go toward our effort to kick the stigma surrounding mental illnesses makes this acquisition even more special to me.”
Cobain's death in April 1994 was ruled a suicide.
Cobain's guitar is the latest artifact from rock music and pop culture that Irsay added to his collection, joining items owned and used by legendary performers including including Bob Dylan, The Beatles, Prince, Eric Clapton, Sir Elton John (video accompanies this story), Jerry Garcia, Les Paul, David Gilmour, Jim Morrison, Pete Townshend, Jimi Hendrix, John Coltrane and The Edge.
Irsay regularly loans items to museums, nonprofits and other organizations for display and research. Displays include the U.S. Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, The Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, The Lincoln Memorial and the Indiana State Museum.