There are some incredibly rare records out there that ar worth a LOT of money, you might even have some in your collection. But what’s the most valuable vinyl record in the world?
Vinyl records are seeing a resurgence as people ditch CDs for streaming, but look to hold on to physical music in some form. Vinyl is filling that physical hole for collectors who want an authentic experience and music that they can touch and smell.
Perhaps in part due to its increasing popularity, old and rare records are worth more than ever. It’s worth busting out your old record collection, or rifling through your parents to see just what you’ve got.
If there’s an old Beatles record in your vinyl collection then you should see how much the same record is going for online. The Beatles make up 4 of the 10 most expensive record sales ever! A John Lennon solo record could be considered to make that up to 5.
The most expensive records are mostly made up of classic vinyls on first pressing like The Beatles and Elvis Presley’s old records – ones that weren’t mass produced.
However the most expensive record ever made was created in the last decade, is actually a CD, and is embroiled in controversy. In fact, the record’s strange and lively journey through existence since it was printed in 2014 has led to it being stored by US federal courts under lock and key.
The record sold for $2 million in 2015.
The record in question was ‘Once Upon a Time in Shaolin’ by Wu-Tang Clan. Producer RZA created the album with Cilvaringz with the goal being not to create a music album but an “art object”. It took 5 years to create and featured appearances from Cher, the rapper Redman, and the FC Barcelona team.
The album was placed inside a jewel encrusted box with leather-bound liner notes and then auctioned it off to the highest bidder. The winner of that bid, spending £2 million on the album, was a person you may recognise: Martin Shkreli.
The pharmaceutical CEO who came under fire and became a notable figure online for a short period after bumping pill prices, attained the album. After receiving it, Shkreli weighed up what to do with it: He considered destroying it to troll people (he was good at that) or placing it somewhere it would be available to the public but only after venturing to a “remote place so that people have to make a spiritual quest to listen”.
In the end, fulfilling a promise Shkreli made in the event that Donald Trump won the election, he streamed the album (though not in its entirety) online. Eventually things got blown into bizzarity.
Shkreli attempted to auction the record on eBay, getting up to $1 million on the highest potential bidder. Then, before he was able to complete the transaction Shkreli was jailed for fraud and his assets were seized by the federal court.
To this day, as far as anyone knows, the record remains under possession by the federal courts as part of Shkreli’s $7.36 million worth of assets which were repossessed. Shkreli’s lawyer said that the album was now “probably worthless” and so ends the tale of the most expensive record ever.
So, unless Once Upon a Time in Shaolin resurfaces and its temporary artistic value lives on, the most valuable record to buy now would be a copy of The Beatles self titled ‘The White Album’. That is definitively the most valuable vinyl. Specifically Ringo Starr’s old first pressing which sold for $790,000 in 2015 (what a year for record sales!).