News

Violin that played as Titanic sank sells for $1.5M

Violin that played as Titanic sank sells for $1.5M

PIECE OF HISTORY: The violin that belonged to Titanic bandmaster Wallace Hartley is seen on display at the Titanic Centre in Belfast in this Sept. 18 file photograph. Photo: Reuters/Cathal McNaughton

By Marie-Louise Gumuchian

LONDON (Reuters) – A violin that was being played as the Titanic went down was sold for $1.46 million at auction on Saturday, a record price for memorabilia from the doomed ocean liner.

Band leader Wallace Hartley played the instrument, trying to calm passengers as the ship slipped into the frozen waters of the North Atlantic in April 1912 after colliding with an iceberg during its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York.

Hartley’s band played the hymn “Nearer, My God, To Thee” as passengers climbed into lifeboats. Hartley and his seven fellow band members all died after choosing to play on. More than 1,500 people died.

When Hartley’s body was recovered more than 10 days after the disaster, the violin was found in a leather case strapped to him, according to the folklore that has grown up around the event.

It was given back to Hartley’s fiancĂ©e Maria Robinson in England, and, after she died in 1939, it was donated to her local Salvation Army band and later passed on, eventually to the current owner, whose identity has not been disclosed.

A silver plate on the German-made violin is engraved “For WALLACE on the occasion of our ENGAGEMENT from MARIA”.

On sale with its case initialed W.H.H, the violin had a guide price of 300,000 pounds, Chrissie Aldridge, of auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son, said.

“It is a record,” she told Reuters after the sale. Asked who had purchased the violin, she would only say: “A British collector.”

Rediscovered in 2006, it took specialists such as forensic science experts years to authenticate the instrument.

However some people still doubt whether the violin is genuine, believing it could not have survived being submerged in sea water.

The auction house said it had attracted interest from collectors all over the world. More than 300,000 people viewed it during a three-month exhibition in the United States.

Recent Headlines

6 mins ago in Sports

Reigning NL batting champ banned 80 games for doping

Fresh
marlinsdeeREUTERS

Dee Gordon of the Miami Marlins was suspended 80 games without pay after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance, Major League Baseball said.

4 hours ago in National

Teen pregnancies hit historic low

Updated
sexed296416402183

The annual survey shows the continuation of a downward trend that began in 2006 and continued through 2014, the latest year of complete data, when nearly 250,000 babies were born to girls and women aged 15 to 19.

4 hours ago in Sports

Watch Richard Sherman pick up unsuspecting passengers

20-overlay-14

The Seattle Seahawks Super Bowl winner takes a side gig as a driver for Lyft.

4 hours ago in Sports

NFL: Raiders hope to move to Vegas

markdavisraiders16119669574354

Raiders owner Mark Davis says he wants to move the team to Las Vegas and is willing to spend a half billion dollars as part of a deal for a new stadium in the city.

5 hours ago in National

U.S. high court approves rule change to expand FBI hacking power

A lock icon, signifying an encrypted Internet connection, is seen on an Internet Explorer browser in a photo illustration in Paris in this April 15, 2014 file photo.

The Supreme Court on Thursday approved a rule change that would let U.S. judges issue search warrants for access to computers located in any jurisdiction despite opposition from civil liberties groups who say it will greatly expand the FBI's hacking authority.