In honor of Kurt Cobain’s would-be 50th birthday, Black Book Guitars in Northern Portland will auction off his guitar—specifically, the coveted Hagstrom Blue Sparkle Deluxe. 10 percent of the profits will be donated to Transition Projects in Portland, a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the city’s homeless transition into secure housing.
The Hagstrom was played by Cobain in the early 1990’s, and after his untimely death, Courtney Love gave the instrument to one of his friends. Eventually, it made its way to Black Book Guitars, and has since been authenticated multiple times. This particular guitar was of some importance to Cobain, according to Nirvana’s guitar technician Earnie Bailey:
In late 1992, [Cobain] was staying at the Inn at the Market in Seattle, and called to ask me if I could find him this specific model. After locating this one, I told him of several other 1960s Italian-made sparkle finish guitars in local shops, and he requested that I buy every one that I could find … After delivering the guitars to his hotel room, he stated that he was keeping the Hagstrom as a Christmas gift to himself, and giving the remaining guitars away to his friends.
It’s a charming story, and shows Cobain’s kindness toward his friends, and a rare moment of indulgence for himself. Cobain’s well-known struggles with addiction and depression led Black Book Guitars owner Nate Fasold to decide on Transition Projects as the recipient of the auction’s partial proceeds. A former trauma nurse, Fasold said he can see the connection between addiction and homelessness:
What I like about Transitions is that it helps people in need transition from homelessness to housing. A lot of their population struggles with addiction, and adequate shelter is something that helps the people I work with at the trauma department at Oregon Health & Science University.
Fasold goes on to muse that he could have provided care for Cobain, if he had been a patient. Seeing as Cobain’s Mark IV Gospel Guitar sold for $131,000 in 2006 and his dirty cardigan sold for $140,800 in 2015, there’s no telling how much the Hagstrom will sell for. Safe to say, Transitions Project is in for quite the boost.
The auction will go live on eBay on Feb. 16 at 11 a.m. EST. In the meantime, check out Paste’s list of the “15 Best Nirvana Songs Not On Nevermind.”