20 Oct 2013

Titanic violin sells for record price

2:55 pm on 20 October 2013

The violin that was apparently played to calm passengers on the Titanic as it sank was sold for £900,000 at auction in Britain.

It was played by band leader Wallace Hartley, who died along with 1,517 others as the ship went down.

The BBC reports the violin sold in just 10 minutes at the auction in Wiltshire on Saturday. The buyer was believed to be British.

The most previously paid for a piece of Titanic memorabilia is thought to have been for a plan of the ship used in the 1912 inquiry into the sinking, sold for £220,000 in 2011.

Auctioneer Alan Aldridge said the violin was the "rarest and most iconic" piece of Titanic memorabilia.

It has taken seven years for the auction house, Henry Aldridge & Son, to authenticate the instrument using several experts.

These included using forensic science experts who are said to have found the wood still contained salt deposits from the sea water.

Some people still doubt whether the violin is the genuine article and believe it could not have survived being submerged in sea water.

But it is claimed the violin survived in a leather case strapped to Mr Harley's body who was found wearing his cork and linen lifejacket.

A diary entry by his fiancee, Maria Robinson, said it was saved from the water and returned to her.

Following her death in 1939, the violin was given to her local Salvation Army citadel and was later passed on to the current anonymous owner's mother in the early 1940s.

The auction house said it had attracted interest from collectors all over the world and added that more than 315,000 people viewed it during a three-month exhibition in the United States.