Titanic bandleader's violin sells for a record $1.7 million at auction

By Brianna Valdez,

The violin that was played by the bandmaster as the Titanic sank more than a hundred years ago was sold at a UK auction house for nearly $1.7 million after taxes and commission.

The total price fetched for the famous violin was 1.1 million British pounds - the highest price that any Titanic artifact has ever won at auction, according to Henry Aldridge & Son, the auction house in Wiltshire, England where the violin was sold.

“In my 20 years as an auctioneer, I can honestly say I don’t think any article has made people show as much emotion as this one,” said Andrew Aldridge of the auction house, reports the Washington Post. “People pick it up and start crying.”

The violin reportedly belonged to 33-year-old Titanic bandmaster Wallace Hartley, who was one of the 1,517 people who died when the Titanic sank. Hartley played along with six other musicians to try and calm passengers who became more and more panicked as the Titanic sank.

Hartley and his band were acknowledged in James Cameron’s film Titanic, where Hartley and three other string instrumentalists in the band were seen playing “Nearer My God To Thee” as frightened passengers rushed past them, trying to reach the lifeboats before the ship submerged.

Hartley’s violin is now unplayable after being soiled by sea-corrosion. The BBC reports that Hartley’s body was recovered from the icy waters a few days after the Titanic sunk with the violin still on his back.

The violin was discovered in a British attic in 2006. After it was authenticated earlier this year, Henry Aldridge & Son put it up for auction, and no one expected it to take in such a price as it did.

"This figure is going to be hard to beat," said collector and violin authenticator Craig Sopin. "I can't think of anything else that is more iconic to come off that ship."



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