The iconic Titanic violin played by the ship's bandmaster as the vessel sank, has fetched nearly £1 million in auction.
The violin is believed to belong to band leader Wallace Hartley, who was among the 1,500 people who died when the ship sank in the Atlantic. Hartley is said to have played the violin to calm down passengers when the ship was sinking.
The violin, which had a guide price of £300,000, was sold for £900,000 just within 10 minutes of auction. Including the buyer's premium and tax, the total price was £1.1 million (approx. $1.7 million)
Titanic sank on April 15, 1912 on its maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. Historians believed that Hartley's violin was lost in the sea when all the band members drowned. However, in 2006 a man, who wants his identity to be undisclosed, said that he found the violin in a suitcase lying in the attic of his mother's house.
Forensic experts were circumspect about the authenticity of the violin as it would have been under water for a long period of time. However, historians, forensic experts and specialist Titanic auctioneers, Henry Aldridge and Son, along with Hartley's biographer, researched and examined the violin for seven years and concluded that it was, in fact, authentic.
According to a BBC report, the violin was in a leather case strapped to Hartley. Maria Robinson, Hartley's fiancee, noted in her diary that the violin was saved after being submerged in water and in fact returned to her. The violin was given to Maria's local Salvation Army citadel after she died in 1939. Somehow, the violin reached the undisclosed man's mother in the 1940's.
The cracked violin, which has two strings intact, was gifted to Hartley by his fiancee Maria. The violin also has an engraved message that says "For Wallace, on the occasion of our engagement. From Maria."
The violin drew attention from many collectors all over the world and has become the most expensive piece of Titanic memorabilia. Previously, a plan of the ship, which was used to inquire the ship's sinking, was auctioned for £220,000 in 2011.
Alan Aldridge, the auctioneer of the violin says that it has become the "rarest and most iconic" piece of Titanic memorabilia.