‘Titanic violin’ sells for £900,000

‘Titanic violin’ sells for £900,000


norman lebrecht

October 20, 2013

The widely-hyped and widely-disputed violin that supposedly went down on the Titanic has fetched $1.45 million in a country auction. The buyer is said to be British. Most other items in the smallhouse sale went for two and three-digit sums. The auctioneer’s efforts over seven years have plainly paid off. This is, however, unlikely to be the end of the controversy.



  • tomboy says:

    The circa 1940 letter from the violin teacher to the ‘student’ is highly suspicious in my mind. It was composed on a typewriter. A letter in long-hand would be more believable, but probably was too difficult for a forger to create. Brings to mind the “Fake but Accurate” Bush National Guard documents.


  • PK Miller says:

    Fools and their money are soon parted or however that goes! (Proverbs? Aesop?? Poor Richard???) I’m no expert on the Titanic or instruments in general. I’m an opera singer. I have a broad enough grounding in music–and a Ph.D. in same says I do–as to believe it MOST unlikely that said violin can be from the Titanic. To have survived the icy sea, etc., etc., and actually survive in the shape it’s in strikes me as improbable. But whoever bought it obviously has the money to play with and is satisfied that’s it’s the “Real McCoy!” Chacun a son gout!

  • Brian says:

    Amazing. My source said that Abraham Lincoln stated that “you can fool some of the people some of the time.” I have a beat up fiddle in my storeroom downstairs that I’d be willing to part with for only $500K. That’s USD, a steal if you ask me!

  • Excellent. Now if we could just get a hedge funder (my vote is for Paulson) to put his elbow through it, we can raise the price by ten percent and flip it for a buck. This recovery is the best recovery ever! Provided you’re the kind of guy who can drop GBP900,000 on a soggy fiddle with an interesting story. Kind of like that set of Paganini’s strings which recently came to light. Of course, we know they’re Paganini’s because they were found in an envelope which clearly said “Paganini’s Strings” on the front. QED.


    • While checking the Paganini story, I saw that RR (should stand for “Religious Relics”) Auctions, which auctioned the (apparently genuine, if the signature is to be believed) Paganini strings has also just auctioned a Wallace Hartley letter for $185,000. If only he’d signed his violin… Still $185,000 for a letter. Paganini’s strings were expected to fetch GBP20,000. So, obviously, the market is in the grip of a bubble…

  • Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    “You may fool all the people some of the time, you can even fool some of the people all of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all the time.” is probably the Lincoln quote you have in mind, but I prefer Dorothy Parker:

    “You can lead a whore-to-culture, but you can’t make her think”…when asked to use the word horticulture in a sentence.

    I wonder if James Cameron bought the Titanic fiddle? Or may its avatar…

  • Misha Keylin says:

    As we say here in the United States “I have a bridge for sale that connects Brooklyn to Manhattan”… @mishakeylin

  • George Washington 2 says:

    The Titanic struck an iceberg made of flesh eating bacteria. Prior to the incident. The Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department kicked in the door of the Titanic in New York City and abducted a paralyzed gay man. The person was shot to death in front of the Titanic when they asked for Jim. Later 30 Charlotte Mecklenburg police officers, Social Services, the Charlotte Fire Department entered the Titanic. The police were told to stand by the items they wanted and take photos of the interior of the Titanic. The police were so jealous that they sabotaged the ship for the federal government. The officer later said they kill anybody who is happy and sabotage any item the United States does not own. We have done this for hundreds of years and nobody will stop us.

  • tomboy@gmail.com says:

    It is reported [by Stuart Kelley, link below,] that Andrew Hooker at Sotheby’s of London is claiming Nigel Kennedy and Yehudi Menuhin have had metal plaques, similar to the one found on the alleged Wallace Hartley violin, attached to the tail pieces of their violins. Can anyone confirm this?


    • I really couldn’t say, but how can any gemmologist, or any CT scan, determine whether the tailpiece has remained attached to the instrument, or has been swapped for one of a similar age?