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Violin Titanic: Instrument Played as Ship Sank Sells for $1.45M

Image: Violin Titanic: Instrument Played as Ship Sank Sells for $1.45M

By Clyde Hughes   |   Monday, 21 Oct 2013 09:29 AM

The violin that played on the deck of the Titanic as the luxury ocean liner slowly sunk on its maiden voyage more than a century ago has sold at an auction for a record $1.45 million.

On Saturday, the violin sold for more than any single Titanic artifact, according to Henry Aldridge & Son auction house in England, which specializes in Titanic memorabilia.

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"In my 20 years as an auctioneer, I can honestly say I don't think any article has made people show as much emotion as this one," Andrew Aldridge, of the auction house, told the Washington Post. "People pick it up and start crying."

Aldridge described the buyer as a "British collector of Titanic items" who paid a total of $1.7 million, which includes taxes and commission.

"(The Titanic musicians) played until the bitter end, and it was an incredibly brave act," Aldridge said. "It represents everything good about people — that's the only explanation I can come up for why it causes so much emotion."

Some 1,517 people died after the vessel struck an iceberg around midnight on April 14, 1912, including the musicians who played on the ship's deck while some occupants escaped onto lifeboats.

The Washington Post reported that the violin belonged to Wallace Henry Hartley, the 33-year-old band leader who played with seven other musicians for the sake of maintaining calm on the ship.

Rescuers pulled Hartley's body from the icy Atlantic Ocean days after the Titanic went under with his violin case strapped to his back.

The violin was found in the attic of a British home in 2006. The auction house told CNN that the violin tested for positive for salt water deposits from when the Titanic sunk.

Researchers first found Titanic's wreckage in 1985 off the coast of Halifax, Nova Scotia. James Cameron's movie "Titanic" in 1997 renewed interest in the shipwreck and its artifacts.

"Titanic" has earned more than $600 million domestically, and another $1.5 billion overseas.

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