The custody battle over Kurt Cobain’s most famous guitar

Kurt Cobain on MTV Unplugged, 1993.

So here’s a little bit of gossip that’s been making the music rounds lately: there’s a custody battle over a guitar once owned by the late Kurt Cobain, one that was once insured for a million dollars.


This guitar.

Kurt Cobain had a guitar he played on his legendary MTV Unplugged performance in 1993 — a Martin D-18E. The guitar is fairly distinctive because Martin only made about 300 before it was discontinued, but more so because Cobain was a lefty and had the bridge and nut replaced so he could play it upside down. After Cobain died, the guitar belonged to his wife, Courtney Love, and Love eventually passed it on to their daughter, Frances Bean Cobain. During this time, Cobain’s legacy continued to grow, as did the value of his famous guitar.

Now here’s where it gets a bit murky: Frances Bean got married to a guy called Isaiah Silva in 2014. According to Silva, she allegedly gave him her father’s guitar as a wedding gift. Why is it alleged? Because they’re now getting divorced, and Silva wants to keep the guitar. Experts now value the guitar at several million dollars, so it’s a pretty significant item.

Frances Bean Cobain and Isaiah Silva

Frances Bean Cobain and Isaiah Silva

Now, the guitar could have a truly valuable sentimental meaning to Silva. I don’t know. Maybe he doesn’t give a shit how much the guitar is worth.


Come on. He wants it because Frances has Cobain money and he wants some of that. Who wouldn’t? Having been married such a short time it’s doubtful he’ll be awarded spousal support or any of her property received prior to the marriage, so it’s easier to claim possession of a wedding gift. That guitar would be on the auction block faster than you could blink.

For what it’s worth, TMZ cornered Courtney Love at an airport to ask her about it and here’s what she said.

“It’s not his. It’s a treasured heirloom of the family. It’s not his to take.”

On this issue, I totally agree.

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