You’re cleaning out your childhood bedroom, your parent’s attic, or your grandparent’s basement and you stumble upon a box of old vinyl records. Lying beneath the dust of decades gone by could be thousands of dollars worth of records waiting to be proudly displayed or sold to the highest bidder. Read on to discover some of the most prized vinyl records to keep your eye out for.
The rarest vinyl record is the 10-inch disk spinning at 78 RPM (rotations per minute). Many older records were published in this format. If you’re not looking to collect records that were pressed before the mid-1950s, you won’t have to worry about the 10-inch. That being said, keep in mind that the older records are harder to come by and could fetch top dollar at auction.
Everyone has their own musical style and sentimental thoughts attached to one genre or another. Some of the most expensive records on the market today may not be worth much to someone who has a negative association with the album, or who may not have even heard of the band. However, some records, due to their overall popularity and the number of disks pressed, are widely agreed to be the most valuable vinyl records in existence.
Here are the top 5 most prized vinyl records on the planet:
This record exemplifies how one small detail between copies of an LP can make all the difference when it comes to value. While Double Fantasy itself is not a rare album, one pressing sold for a whopping $150,000 in 1999 because it was reported to be the last record Lennon ever signed. It was signed by the Beatle just hours before his death on December 8, 1980.
Do you have an original 1967 vinyl of Sgt. Pepper lying around? You could be sitting on a pretty penny, especially if it is the mono version with the black Parlophone label. One copy of this album sold for $290,000 to a buyer from the Midwest—though this record came complete with the signatures of all four Beatles!
Jack White of the White Stripes, The Dead Weather and The Raconteurs bought the test pressing of The King’s first ever recording for $300,000 at auction in December 2015. He then replicated it and produce a limited-edition vinyl record which he released through his studio and label Third Man Records.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that the vinyl record that holds the Guinness World Record for highest price ever paid for a commercial album belongs to The Beatles. Each of the self-titled “White” album presses are extremely valuable and rare. Only band members and executives associated with The Beatles were gifted with this special, serial-numbered version when it was first released. This particular record is the rarest of them all, coming in at serial number 0000001. It was originally owned and stored by famed Beatles drummer Ringo Starr until he sold it at auction in 2015 for an astronomical—and record setting—$790,000.
This album, sold in 2015 by the Wu-Tang Clan, is by far the priciest record ever sold at $2 million. The reason behind its astronomical price is that it never became a commercial album—this vinyl record is the one and only copy ever pressed. Upon purchasing the record, the buyer must also agree to a contract stipulating that he or she may not attempt to sell or profit from the record for 100 years. However, they may release the album for free to the public should they feel so inclined.
The buyer turned out to be Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli, the controversial American business man whose company bought out an anti-HIV medication and hiked the price up more than 5000%, forcing it out of the hands of millions of Americans and people around the world who could no longer afford it. He has refused to release the album for free, though he has released some samplings of the prized record in YouTube videos since then. One incredible clause was snuck into the contract that may rescue this vinyl from the wrong hands:
“The buying party also agrees that at any time during the stipulated 88-year period, the seller may legally plan and attempt to execute one (1) heist or caper to steal back Once Upon a Time in Shaolin, which, if successful, would return all ownership rights to the seller. Said heist or caper can only be undertaken by currently active members of the Wu-Tang Clan and/or actor Bill Murray, with no legal repercussions.”
Let’s hope they manage to pull it off.