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Titanic violin sells at auction for more than $1.7 million

October 21, 2013|By David Ng
  • The violin played by bandmaster Wallace Hartley during the final moments before the sinking of the Titanic is shown, along with a leather carrying case initialed WHH.
The violin played by bandmaster Wallace Hartley during the final moments… (Peter Muhly / AFP/Getty…)

A violin that was played by a musician on the Titanic as the ship sank in 1912 has been sold at auction for more than $1.7 million, more than triple expectations.

The instrument sold at a Saturday auction in Britain for £1.1 million, or about $1.78 million. It had been estimated that the selling price would be between £200,000 and £300,000.

Henry Aldridge and Son, the British auction house that specializes in Titanic-related memorabilia and that held the auction, said the instrument was discovered in 2006, and was played by second-class passenger Wallace Hartley, who was one of hundreds who perished on the tragic night of April 14, 1912.

ART: Can you guess the high price?

Hartley is believed to have played with his ensemble as the boat sank in the North Atlantic after striking an iceberg. In the 1997 James Cameron movie "Titanic," the violinist and his ensemble were depicted as performing the piece "Nearer, My God, to Thee."

Other objects at the auction included Hartley's travel bag, in which the violin was recovered after the sinking; some of the musician's sheet music; and the ship's original insurance document.

The auction house said it conducted extensive tests on the original instrument to determine its authenticity. It said that the violin was given to Hartley by his fiancee as an engagement gift. The instrument is believed to be German and created around 1880.

The auction also featured a prop violin that was seen in the Oscar-winning film that was played by actor Jonathan Evans-Jones, who played Hartley in the movie.


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