Kurt Cobain's iconic MTV Unplugged cardigan sells for record price at auction

Kurt Cobain's green cardigan from Nirvana's live 1993 MTV Unplugged performance has sold, setting a new record for the most expensive sweater ever auctioned.

The olive-green Manhattan brand cardigan, once owned by the late Nirvana frontman, was sold for a staggering US$334,000 (NZ$526,067) by Julien's Auctions at New York's Hard Rock Cafe on Saturday (local time) - doubling its final-bid sale price from November 2015.

Four years ago, the acrylic, mohair and lycra blend with a missing button and a burn hole sold for US$137,500 (NZ$216,569) through Julien's Auctions, greatly exceeding the sweater's estimated US$60,000 pre-auction value, Rolling Stone reports

The sweater swiftly surpassed its US$200,000 minimum bid ahead of this weekend's auction, with its pre-bidding estimate sitting at US$300,000.

The cardigan came with a handwritten letter from Jackie Farry, the nanny of Cobain and Hole frontwoman Courtney Love's daughter, Frances Bean. Love, 55, is said to have gifted the sweater to Farry following Cobain's death by suicide on April 5, 1994. He was 27.

Kurt Cobain in his green sweater during Nirvana's November 1993 MTV Unplugged performance.
Kurt Cobain in his green sweater during Nirvana's November 1993 MTV Unplugged performance. Photo credit: File

The cardigan, complete with "discolouration near [its] left pocket", "discolouration on [its] right pocket" and "cigarette burns", was left unwashed by Julien's Auctions.

"It's very important that we don't wash it... the stains are still there," Julien Auctions' Darren Julien told Rolling Stone earlier in October.

Yet the sweater's sale price was exceeded by a US$340,000 (NZ$535,517) bid on the rock icon's custom-made Fender Mustang guitar, played by Cobain on Nirvana's In Utero tour in 1993. 

Formerly displayed at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Fender's new owner also received a note handwritten by Love, claiming the instrument was one of her late husband's favourites.

The Icons & Idols: Rock 'N' Roll auction also saw the sale of Elvis Presley's 1974 gold Mercedes-Benz 450 (NZ$196,881) and a copy of Are You Experienced? signed by Jimi Hendrix (NZ$70,877).