The Most Valuable Records

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Vinyl records have made quite the comeback (see my post on the Return of Vinyl from May 29, 2022). You might be surprised at the value of some of those old albums that are gathering dust in your basement. If you look at online sales giants like eBay or Discogs, you’d be amazed at what people are paying for records.

The legacy of the artist is a big determining factor for what prices go for – your Beatles and Pink Floyd albums are worth a lot more than your Barry Manilow or Jim Nabors albums. And of course – condition of the vinyl and album cover greatly impact value. A quick current search on eBay for “Beatles Vinyl” sorted from highest to lowest price shows something called “Rarest 1968 The Beatles Lost Harrison Compressed White Album w/7 Errors EX/NM” for sale for $250,000! If you just search for “Vinyl Records” on eBay, you’ll find “Holy Grail Patridge Family Screen Gems Records Shirley Jones David Cassidy” listed for a cool million dollars – who’d of thought the Patridge Family would have that kind of value?! Those are prices that the seller wants – I suspect that they won’t sell though at those prices. You also can search eBay for actual selling prices over the last three months – today’s search showed the highest price actually paid on eBay over the last three months was a Rolling Stones 45 rpm single Street Fighting Man with a picture sleeve label that sold for $22,600!

So…what are the most valuable records of all time? Here are five of the highest transactions…

Once Upon A Time In Shaolin – Wu Tang Clan – this was WTC’s seventh studio album, and only one copy of it was made. Recorded over a six year period, a single two-CD copy was produced in 2014 and it was sold by an auction house the following year. The CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, Martin Shkreli, purchased it for $2 million. In 2018, when Shkreli was convicted of securities fraud, it was seized by the federal government, along with the other assets of Shkreli. The Justice Department sold it for $4 million in 2021 to PleasrDAO, a non-fungible token collector.

Blowin’ In the Wind – Bob Dylan – in 2021, Dylan re-recorded his classic song for the first time in 60 years. It was part of the “ionic original” project created by producer T Bone Burnett. The acetate copy of the song was auctioned by Christie’s in England in July 2022 for $1,769,508.

The Beatles (White Album) – The Beatles – this iconic album was famously numbered in sequential order when it was pressed, with the number printed on the cover – my copy is “No. 2905914”. My vinyl is in decent shape (a few snaps and pops, no skips), but the album cover is a mess, and I don’t have the photographs of the group that was included with the original version. I couldn’t get $20 for mine. But…when Ringo Starr put his personal copy up for sale – No. 0000001 – it sold for $790,000 in 2015.

My Happiness – Elvis Presley – the frontman for the band the White Stripes, Jack White, is co-owner of an independent record label called Third Man Records. In 1953, an 18 year old Presley had his first ever recording session at Sun Studios. The one-off acetate recording of My Happiness was sold to White in 2015 for $300,000. Third Man Records then made copies of it and released the copies on Record Store Day that year.

That’ll Be the Day/In Spite Of All the Danger – The Quarrymen – the Quarrymen formed in 1956, led by John Lennon. Paul McCartney joined in 1957, and George Harrison joined in 1958. In March 1960, they changed their name to the Beatles. In July 1958, the Quarrymen booked a recording session, and two songs were recorded – a McCartney original called In Spite Of All the Danger and a cover of Buddy Holly’s That’ll Be the Day. After the session was complete, the band was given a 78 rpm record of their session. It was passed around by the band members for several weeks, and eventually it was lost. In 1981, John Lowe, pianist for the Quarrymen, rediscovered it and sold it to Paul McCartney. Record Collector magazine listed the guide price at £200,000 in 2012 ($240,000 today).

Here is Dylan singing Blowin’ In the Wind in 1963. Enjoy! And…check out your old records!





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