Nirvana bassist Krist Novoselic said that he believes the band's original master recordings are “gone forever,” after it was revealed that hundreds of thousands of recordings stored on the Universal Studios backlot in Hollywood were destroyed in a fire in 2008.

A report published this week by the New York Times detailed the full extent of what was described as the biggest disaster in the history of music, with masters of possibly 500,000 songs incinerated in the fire. The full scope of the catastrophe was not made public until now.

Asked on Twitter about the state of the Nirvana masters, Novoselic replied, “I think they are gone forever.”

Novoselic told us a while back that he's got a philosophical perspective on who ultimately “owns” Nirvana's music: “In a hundred years I don't know who is going to own Nirvana. I'm not going to own it. I'll be dead and gone. You know what I mean? But I was part of it, and I'm proud of it. That's all I can really say.”

Other artists who are now trying to get information on whether their masters survived include R.E.M., the Roots and Steely Dan. Believed to have perished in the blaze were masters from Buddy Holly, Louis Armstrong, Aretha Franklin, Etta James, Billie Holiday, John Coltrane, Ray Charles, Elton John, B.B. King, Snoop Dogg, Chuck Berry, Tom Petty, Tupac Shakur, Eminem, Soundgarden, Nine Inch Nails, Guns N' Roses and hundreds more.

Universal has stated that the Times report contains “numerous inaccuracies, misleading statements, contradictions and fundamental misunderstandings of the scope of the incident and affected assets.” The company has not yet provided evidence for its claims.