Violin that played on as Titanic slipped beneath waves sells for £900k
The violin reputedly played by the Titanic's bandmaster as the ill-fated liner sank has sold for a world record £900,000.
Wallace Hartley has become part of the ship's legend after leading his fellow musicians in playing as the doomed vessel went down, most famously the hymn Nearer My God To Thee.
Hartley and his seven fellow band members all died in the tragedy in 1912, in which 1,500 people were killed after the ship hit an iceberg.
His violin, which had been a gift from his fiancée Maria Robinson, was apparently found in a case strapped to his body when it was recovered from the icy Atlantic waters. Its re-emergence in 2006, when it was reportedly discovered in an attic in Yorkshire, prompted heated debate over its authenticity.
Titanic specialist auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son insist nearly seven subsequent years of research and tests prove it to be the genuine article.
Now the violin – accompanied by a leather luggage case initialled WHH – went under the hammer with a host of other items from the ship at the public auction in Devizes, Wiltshire.
The violin had a reserve price of between £200,000 and £300,000 and was expected to reach as much as £400,000.
The previous record sale saw a 32-foot plan of the Titanic used in the inquiry into the sinking in 1912 fetch more than £220,000 two years ago.
The violin has been on show at Titanic Belfast, the visitor attraction beside where the ship was built.
Bidding started at £50. The violin sold within 10 minutes for £900,000 after fierce bidding between two telephone bidders.