Lot 4738: Kurt Cobain's Hospital Gown Worn on Stage at the 1992 Reading Festival

RR Auction

RR Auction

2019-03-11 11:20:46

Lot 4738

Off-white hospital gown worn by Kurt Cobain when Nirvana played the Reading Festival in Reading, Berkshire, England on August 30, 1992. The long-sleeve cotton patient’s gown with open back, size large, features ties to collar and middle-back section, with chest area stamped in green, “Angelica Healthcare, Rented–Never Sold” with upper caduceus, and inner lining retaining the original manufacturer’s label. In fine condition, with scattered stains and expected wear; lower tie string torn from left side, but remains tied to opposite side string; and just below logo are two small rusty holes from where Cobain had placed a small button. Accompanied by a letter of provenance from the original recipient, which reads, in part: “A few days after his death, there was a vigil for Cobain at the Seattle Center…About a dozen of us stayed long after the festivities ended. We sat in the Flag Pavilion listening to music…just hanging out among the candles and flowers fans had placed there earlier. Late that evening, Courtney Love showed up accompanied by Kat Bjelland of Babes in Toyland with a bag of Kurt’s clothes. She was visibly grief-stricken and proceeded to pass the clothes out while asking trivia about Kurt’s life…She handed me his hospital gown from the legendary Reading Festival performance from 1992. She then cried on my shoulder for a while. I tried to say something reassuring about his love for her and she pushed me away, insisting that he only loved Frances…The entire incident was sad. And weird. And it blew my teenage mind.” The headlining act for the third and final day of the 1992 Reading Festival, Nirvana arrived in the United Kingdom as one of the biggest bands in the world, and frontman Kurt Cobain, a new father. Frances Bean was born some 12 days earlier on August 18th amid ongoing reports that Cobain and his wife Courtney Love were abusing drugs throughout the pregnancy. Rumors swelled as Reading drew near, with press outlets spreading news that Cobain had been arrested and that his ailing health, exacerbated by a recent drug overdose, would keep Nirvana from performing. Earlier that month, Cobain had indeed checked himself into LA’s Cedars-Sinai Medical Center for detox, spending the majority of the month there battling withdrawals and severe stomach pains before making the UK trip. The media circus prompted Cobain to address the issue front and center. Moments after his bandmates Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic walked across the Reading stage, Cobain was very dramatically rolled out on a wheelchair sporting a shaggy blonde wig and donning a loose-fitting hospital gown. After struggling to stand, Cobain warbled a few lyrics from Bette Midler’s ‘The Rose’ and then promptly collapsed. He hammed it up for a few more seconds lying supine on the stage and then quickly arose, collecting his guitar and proceeding to play a lengthy and blistering set of 25 songs, with the resulting performance widely considered one of the best, and most memorable, of Nirvana’s career. Worn as a stunt at the 1992 Reading Festival, bestowed later as a parting gift from Courtney Love to our consignor at the Cobain vigil, this iconic and museum-quality piece represents the Nirvana frontman at his finest and most sardonic, jabbing pointedly at critics and detractors alike while retaining the intensely original showmanship that made him a living legend. A truly remarkable rock and roll keepsake here offered on the 25th anniversary of Cobain’s death.

Estimate: $50,000 -$60,000

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