About a Guitar: Wedding Gifts & Divorce

By The Law Offices of Ronald H. Kauffman of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Equitable Distribution on Thursday, July 7, 2016.

Kurt Cobain’s acoustic guitar from MTV Unplugged is legendary. Equitable distribution of the iconic guitar is at issue between Kurt’s daughter and her husband.

‘MTV Unplugged in New York’ is a live acoustic performance album by Nirvana. The album debuted at number one, was Nirvana’s most successful posthumous release, went 5x platinum, and won a Grammy Award.

If you don’t know Nirvana or the unplugged concert, stop reading and click here. You won’t be sorry.

Frances Bean Cobain, the daughter of Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love, is currently estranged from her husband of 21 months, Isaiah Silva, the frontman for The Eeries.

Isaiah is claiming he owns Kurt’s former Martin D-18E guitar from the famed MTV performance. The guitar is a very rare; only 300 were made. However, the guitar’s sentimental value is immeasurable, as it was the last guitar played by Kurt before his suicide.

Silva is claiming he owns it because it was given to him by his wife as a wedding present, though she denies gifting it to him. Courtney Love takes her daughter’s side, and has said:

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

I’ve written about equitable distribution in Florida before. Let’s assume that the guitar was in fact a wedding gift from Frances to Isaiah. What happens? In all likelihood, the guitar would be considered marital property, not just Isaiah’s, and would have to be equitably distributed.

Equitable distribution of the rare guitar could involve: selling it to an outside buyer, distributing it to either Isaiah or Frances, or simply sawing it in half for each of them to enjoy.

In Florida, “Marital assets and liabilities” include interspousal gifts during the marriage. In divorce proceedings, the court must divide the marital assets between the parties, and begins with the premise that the distribution should be equal, unless there is a justification for an unequal distribution based on certain relevant factors.

If a judge were to determine that Kurt’s guitar was not a wedding gift from Frances – and given its multi-million dollar and sentimental value, a Cobain family heirloom – it would be Frances’. That’s because courts have to set apart to each spouse that spouse’s nonmarital assets.

Last week, Silva alleged that Sam Lutfi, a former manager of Love as well as Britney Spears, kidnapped him and stole his cellphone. The plot thickens.

The Spin magazine article is here.