Clapton guitar, Cobain setlist, Whitney jacket under hammer

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Eric Clapton's 1968 Martin D-45 acoustic guitar is on display during a press preview November 15, 2021 in New York to promote Julien's Auctions Icons & Idols.

Eric Clapton's guitar, Kurt Cobain's handwritten setlists and Whitney Houston's multi-print Versace jacket are among the star-powered music memorabilia hitting the auction block this weekend.

Clapton's 1968 Martin D-45 acoustic instrument is the toast of this year's "Icons & Idols: Rock 'N' Roll" from Julien's Auctions, which anticipates the guitar could fetch $300,000 to $500,000 during bidding this weekend.

"And I think that's a conservative estimate," said Martin Nolan, executive director of the house.

"The collectible on the art market right now -- it's very, very hot, these prices are going through the roof," he told AFP during a preview of the auction that will include some 1,000 pieces.

The 76-year-old Englishman Clapton -- who in recent years has made a very public turn to far-right conservatism, taking an ardent anti-Covid-19 vaccination stance and facing accusations of racism -- played the guitar during the 1970 debut live concert performance of Derek and The Dominos, the group he founded that was behind the classic "Layla."

A sheet of partial handwritten working draft lyrics to that 1970 hit are also for sale, and estimated to go for $30,000 to $50,000.

Asked if Julien's considered the controversy surrounding Clapton in choosing to highlight items connected to the rock star, Nolan said "there will always be something controversial."

"I could go down the list with every star that's represented here," he said. "We don't focus on that; we focus on what's good, the amazing music that they've given us for many, many decades."

Also included in the two-day auction -- bidding will take place online and at Manhattan's Hard Rock Cafe November 19-20 -- is a handwritten setlist from Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain.

He scrawled songs including "Come As You Are" and "About A Girl" on a tablecloth he signed along with bandmates Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic.

Last year at Julien's annual event a retro acoustic-electric guitar the late star played during the legendary 1993 MTV Unplugged performance snagged a record $6 million, the most expensive guitar ever sold at auction.

The year prior, the cigarette-singed cardigan that grunge's reluctant poster boy wore during that same performance went for $334,000.

Several outfits worn on stage by the late American pop diva Whitney Houston are also going under the hammer, along with a plaid and paisley print Gianni Versace jacket and matching velvet trousers.

Julien's estimates the ensemble, which the superstar wore circa 1992, could go for $3,000 to $5,000.

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