Top 10 Most Valued & Rare Vinyl Records
Most vinyl lovers likely go online or head to a local record store to find their favorite albums. But what if money was no object? Prime collectibles like rare wines, antique cars, or fine art appreciate in value over time. The same goes for some of the most rare vinyl albums. In fact, the rarest vinyl records also end up as the most valued vinyl records that some collectors will pay seemingly any amount of money for.
The 10 Most Valuable Records of All Time
The most valuable vinyl records of all time may not be the most widely released, but for a lucky few, these records were definitely worth (way more) than their weight in gold.
According to HMV, these are the top individual vinyl record sales of all time.
1. Wu-Tang Clan: Once Upon a Time in Shaolin - $2 million
The infamous (and currently incarcerated) Martin Shkreli paid a reported $2 million for this 2015 album, of which Shkreli’s copy is the only one produced, making it the most valuable and rare vinyl album to date.
Shkreli, the controversial former CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, hiked up the price of his company’s anti-HIV drug by more than 5000%. Because of his impropriety, he’s now behind bars for at least 20 years, pretty much ensuring he won’t be enjoying the most valued vinyl record of all time in the near future.
And even when he gets out, the terms of the buyer’s agreement stipulates that the buyer (Shkreli) may not release the album for profit for 100 years. However, he’s allowed to release it free of charge.
2. The Beatles: The Beatles (White Album) - $790,000
As one of the Beatles’ most famous LPs, the band’s drummer Ringo Starr owned the first printing of this album from 1968. With a print number of '0000001', the second most valuable vinyl record in history was sold at auction in the United States for $790,000.
3. Elvis Presley: 'My Happiness' - $300,000
As an artist who loves vinyl records, Jack White is also one of the most prolific musicians in this generation. And in 2015, Jack White bought a test pressing of Elvis’ first recording for a reported $300,000 at auction, making it the third most valued vinyl record sale of all time.
4. The Beatles: Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (signed by all four Beatles) - $290,000
Celebrities aren’t the only ones getting in on buying some of the most valuable and rare vinyl records in history. Sold for $290,000 at auction, a buyer in the Midwest bought an original 1967 pressing of The Beatles’ most iconic album.
5. John Lennon & Yoko Ono: Double Fantasy - $150,000
One of the most valued vinyl records sold is also part of the biggest tragedies in musical history. Of course, any vintage pressing Lennon’s music would likely catch a fair price at an auction, but this one sold for $150,000 also happens to be a record that Lennon himself signed just hours before he was assassinated.
6. The Beatles: Yesterday & Today - $125,000
If market trends are any indication, anything the Beatles released only seems to appreciate in value. But it's not just the age of this release that makes it so valuable. This compilation album is one of the rarest vinyl records in history, having only been released in the US, Canada, and Japan but not the UK or Europe It also featured the band’s infamous “butcher” cover, with the four bandmates inexplicably draped in dismembered doll parts and raw meat. As you can imagine, this cover art was immediately recalled and replaced with much more commercial artwork.
7. The Beatles: 'Til There Was You' (10” acetate) - £77,500
One of the most valued vinyl records is also a release of the Beatles’ earliest demos, with the eponymous “‘Til There Was You.”
8. Aphex Twin: Caustic Window (test pressing) - $46,300
Breaking the long streak of rare and valuable Beatles pressings is this much newer release of Caustic Window by Canadian artist Aphex Twin (aka Richard D. James). In 2014, Markus ‘Notch’ Persson, the inventor of cult video game Minecraft, bought a rare release of this Aphex Twin album for a reported $46,300.
9. Tommy Johnson: 'Alcohol and Jake Blues' - $37,100
This release has the distinction of being the most valued blues vinyl record sold at auction. The buyer apparently had the same album on vinyl, but placed the winning bid of $37,100 on this release because it was apparently in much better condition than the one he already owned.
10. Frank Wilson: 'Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) - £25,742
Frank Wilson’s ersatz debut was only pressed in 250 demo copies, of which just five survived into present day after Motown boss Berry Gordy ordered the destruction of the remaining 245. Because it’s among the rarest vinyl albums, the anonymous buyer bought one of the five remaining demos for £25,742 in 2009.
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