Kurt Cobain’s Sweater Just Became The Most Expensive Ever Sold At Auction For $489K

28 October 2019
Culture, Artist, Nirvana, Kurt Cobain, Sweater
Image: MTV Unplugged

The sweater worn during the band’s appearance on MTV Unplugged in 1993 has become as iconic as the musician

Theirs was a brand of music that came to define not just a generation, but a mood: Nirvana mapped onto the formative years of every adolescent, providing them with a soundtrack with which to express their teenage angst and wider apathy. And to any naysayers that thought otherwise, they need only look at the band’s second studio album, Nevermind, which became one of the best selling alternative albums of the 1990s. Even today, songs like “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and “Come As You Are” continue to be grunge anthems sung heartily around the world.

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Nirvana was certainly prolific and while all bands are a sum of their parts, it was lead singer and guitarist Kurt Cobain who stole the show – although it should be said that he didn’t possess the showmanship of someone like Jagger or Bowie, but was more reluctant to gain such star power.

The pressure of fame was something Cobain struggled with throughout his career, and when the musician was found dead with a shotgun on his chest on April 8, 1994 at just 27-years-old, the tragedy was one felt across the world. Fans of the band were quick to pay their tribute to their self-appointed hero and even years on from the death, Cobain’s significance continues to weigh heavy on public consciousness.

This was particularly evident at the recent action of the singer’s cardigan, which he wore during Nirvana’s 1993 appearance on MTV Unplugged. The piece was reportedly obtained by Cobain’s family friend Jackie Farry after previously being owned by Garrett Kletjian, who admitted to having worn the sweater just once and for only 40 seconds.

As Complex reports, Kletjian said: “It’s a kind of weird, powerful thing when you do something like that, when we put on somebody else’s [clothes]. It’s like when they say you should walk in somebody else’s shoes. When I put that on, I was like, ‘Ah, no. God, I don’t want to wear this.’”

The sweater was purchased through Julien’s Auctions, four years after it was first auctioned off for $137,000. Unwashed and featuring two pockets, a front-button closure, discolouration and a burn hole, the now iconic cardigan was estimated to rake in between $US200,000 and $300,000 at auction. But it succeeded everyone’s expectation with the winning bid of $US334,000 (approx. $489,525 AUD), making it the most expensive cardigan ever sold at auction.

According to fashion historian Kimberly Chrisman-Campbell, the sweater was made in the 1960s by garment company Manhattan Industries. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Chrisman-Campbell revealed that she was able to track down an old MI ad that featured a similar-looking cardigan for just $15.95.

That’s one hefty profit.

Via GQ Australia