The 12 Most Expensive Vinyl Records Of All Time

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Updated on January 2, 2024 by
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Did you know that some vinyl records are more expensive than a house?

Vinyl records are enjoyed by many people for a variety of reasons. They offer a unique listening experience that cannot be replicated with other formats, and they often have a higher quality sound than CDs. Additionally, vinyl records are often more collectible than CDs, and they can be used as a physical embodiment of an artist’s music.

One of the most famous examples of a band that is popular for both their music and their vinyl records is The Beatles. In fact, the Beatles are so well-known for their vinyl records that they have their own album cover type – the LP record.

Record collecting is another popular reason why people enjoy vinyl records. Many people collect vinyl records not only because they are unique listening experiences, but also because they often have more information about the artist and the album than CDs do. Some limited edition vinyl records even come with unique artwork that is not found on any other format.

Mono and stereo records are also enjoyed by many people for their unique sound. Mono records are typically played on one channel only, while stereo records offer a more realistic sound experience that is closer to how people hear music in real life. But vinyl records do not have to be mono or stereo – they can be played on either channel. Rare records that are only available in mono or stereo can be very collectible.

What makes a vinyl record so costly? It is not only about the music quality, but more about how rare it is. Vinyl records that have a limited number of production units can be worth a fortune and depending on how unique they are, the value can keep going up. Details such as a serial number, a handwritten note, or an unusual cover can have a powerful influence on the record’s final price.

The first pressing of a vinyl record is the most important. This is the version that is most likely to be in demand and it is also the most likely to be rare. The first pressing of a vinyl record is usually the only one that has a serial number. This number can be used to track down the record and determine its value.

Serial numbers are usually found on the back of a vinyl record. They consist of a series of numbers and letters that indicate the album’s production date, track listing, and other information. Some rare vinyl records also come with handwritten notes from the artist or producer. These notes can add to the album’s value and make it more unique. Artists’ last record releases, for example, are often worth more than their earlier releases.

Some vinyl records are also available in limited editions. These editions are usually much more rare than the standard versions and they often come with unique cover art or bonus tracks. Some collectors even go so far as to buy entire series of limited editions. Or, the only copy of a particular album that they will ever find can increase its value.

All of these factors – the rarity of the first pressing, the inclusion of serial numbers and notes, and the limited edition status – contribute to the high cost of vinyl records. The valuable vinyl records that are available for sale can range in price from a few hundred dollars to million dollars.

Here are some of the rarest and most expensive vinyl records of all time. You could make a fortune if you have these vinyl records.

1. Once Upon a Time in Shaolin by Wu-Tang Clan: $2 million

Once Upon a Time in Shaolin by Wu-Tang Clan

This record comes with a contract that specifies that the buyer cannot commercially exploit it for 100 years. However, the owner may release the record for free if they want to. What makes this record so valuable is the fact that only one copy was ever produced. Paddle8, an online auction house, auctioned the album in 2015 and it was stored in a basement at a hotel in Morocco. Martin Shkreli, CEO of Turing Pharmaceuticals, bought the record for $2 million.

2. White Album by The Beatles: $790,000

White Album by The Beatles

For years, it was known that Beatles drummer Ringo Starr owned the first edition copy of The Beatles White Album from the year 1968 since the records were stamped with category numbers in sequence. The drummer’s personal copy bears the serial number ‘0000001’. He kept it in a basement in mint condition for more than 35 years. Starr ultimately sold his copy at an auction for $790,000 in the year 2015. The identity of the purchaser is not known.

3. My Happiness by Elvis Presley: $300,000

My Happiness by Elvis Presley

This record is the 3rd most expensive record ever sold. It features two tracks, ‘That’s When Your Heartaches Begin and ‘My Happiness,’ and is Elvis Presley’s first recording ever. Jack White, an American songwriter and singer, purchased the test pressing at auction back in 2015. The talented musician reportedly shelled out $300,000 for this record. Later, he released a copy of the song for Record Store Day.

4. Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles: $290,000

Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band by The Beatles

A US man purchased this signed record for $290,500 in 2013. It was released in 1967 and is the 8th album by the Beatles. The record spent 15 weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Top LPs chart in America and 27 weeks at No. 1 on the Record Retailer chart in the UK.

5. Double Fantasy by John Lennon and Yoko Ono: $150,000

Double Fantasy by John Lennon and Yoko Ono

This record was autographed by John Lennon himself, just hours before he was killed by Mark David Chapman on Dec 8th, 1980. And it sold in 1999 for a whopping $150,000, making it one of the most expensive vinyl records ever sold!

6. Yesterday & Today by The Beatles: $125,000

Yesterday & Today by The Beatles

Yesterday and Today sold at auction for $125,000 in February 2016. It is remembered mainly for the controversy surrounding its first cover photo. Dubbed the butcher cover, the cover shows Ringo, George, Paul, and John covered in baby doll parts and raw meat. It didn’t go down well with people, so it was quickly replaced with a decent album cover.

7. Till There Was You by The Beatles: £77,500 ($106550.80)

Till There Was You by The Beatles

The 10-inch acetate of Hello Little Girl and Till There Was You is said to be the ‘Holy Grail’ for Beatles record collectors. This 78 RPM record bears the writing of the manager of Beatles, Brian Epstein, and was the first disc to be cut before the Beatles broke into the national chart. Les Maguire, an ex-keyboard player for Gerry and the Pacemakers, discovered a copy in his attic and sold it to an anonymous buyer for £77,500 ($106550.80) in Warrington in the year 2016.

8. Caustic Window by Aphex Twin: $46,300

Caustic Window by Aphex Twin

Richard David James, popularly known as Aphex Twin, released Caustic Window in 1996. Markus Notch Persson, a Swedish video game designer and creator of the video game Minecraft, acquired the test pressing when it appeared on eBay in 2014. The Minecraft inventor shelled out $46,300 for the record.

9. Alcohol and Jake Blues by Tommy Johnson: $37,100

Alcohol and Jake Blues by Tommy Johnson

Paramount Records, a US record label, released Tommy Johnson’s album ‘Alcohol and Jake Blues’ in 1930. Johnson was an American musician and songwriter who was popular for his guitar skills and for singing in an unusual falsetto voice. However, all the master tapes were destroyed when Paramount Records closed 5 years later. It means that the record is very rare. As a matter of fact, the 78-rpm blues record is such a rare find that a person paid $37,000 for the album back in 2013. John Tefteller, a US record dealer, purchased the record because it was in much better condition than the record he already had.

10. Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) by Frank Wilson: £25,742 ($35,412)

Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) by Frank Wilson

American singer Frank Wilson released the song Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) in the year 1965. It is the singer’s only Motown single and is a valuable item among hoarders.

Just 250 demo copies of this song were ever pressed. Of 250 copies just 5 are said to be in circulation. Motown founder Berry Gordy destroyed the rest of the demos. According to rumors, Gordy was upset about the prospect of one of his top producers launching a recording career and ordered the copies to be destroyed. The Motown founder is believed to possess one of the copies and another copy sold at auction to a mysterious buyer for $37,000 in May 2009.

11. The Pink Floyd Lucy Leave And I’m A King Bee: $30,000

The Pink Floyd Lucy Leave And I’m A King Bee

While the record says “The Pink Floyd,” its two tracks were in fact recorded back when the musical group was known as The Tea Set. Slim Harpo, an American blues musician, wrote the song I’m a King Bee. And Syd Barrett, an English musician, singer, and songwriter, wrote the song, “Lucy Leave. About 100 copies were pressed. The English rock band was founded by Nick Mason, Richard Wright, Roger Waters, Bob Klose, and Barrett. This record is valued at around $30,000.

12. Quarrymen – In Spite Of All The Danger/That’ll Be The Day: $13,000 to $260,000

Quarrymen - In Spite Of All The Danger/That’ll Be The Day

John Lennon formed a British rock group called the Quarrymen in Liverpool in 1956. And it evolved into the Beatles in the year 1960. The English group consisted of George Harrison, Paul McCartney, and John Lennon. They recorded two songs in this record. Initially, only one copy of the recordings existed, until McCartney purchased it and released 50 copies of the single. He gifted these records to friends and relatives for Christmas. These vinyl records have sold for hundreds and thousands of dollars since 1981.

What is a Good Price for Used Vinyl Records?

Interest in vinyl records has grown; in 2023, the industry grew by about 11%. So, now is an excellent time to start collecting records. Used vinyl from famous artists that are in good condition sell for about $18.93 on average, though rarer records and those with variations can sell for much more.

Is Collecting Vinyl Records Worth It?

Yes, for these reasons:

  • Superior sound: vinyl records continue to offer superior sound quality to other formats. The sound is usually warmer and more authentic compared to digital and other sound formats.
  • Vinyl records can be valuable & collectible: vinyl albums may become valuable collectibles over time. They can also be a personal and profitable investment for anyone who prefers vinyl records over other audio formats.

How to Start a Vinyl Record Collection

When buying used records, it’s best to buy from a store or individual who understands and uses the accepted vinyl grading system, which includes these categories:

  • Poor (P) and Fair (F): the record may be in bad condition and include scratches, warps, skips, and more. It’s best to pass by these vinyl record albums.
  • Good (G) and Good+ (G+): when an album has a G grading, it should play without skipping; however, these albums may have scratches, surface noise, or other issues.
  • Very Good (VG): these records may have some noise, groove wear, and some light scratches; however, they will still be audible.
  • Very Good+ (VG+): these albums have been taken care of and may include some surface defects and light wear. The album will play without any issues.
  • Near Mint (NM or M-): this may be any record (though not new) that may never have been played or was played only a few times. These albums play perfectly.
  • Mint (M): these vinyl records are perfect. They may never have been played and may be factory-sealed.

Final Thoughts

Vinyl records are a popular format for music playback. They are typically made of vinyl, a sturdy plastic with a smooth surface. Vinyl records can last longer than CDs or MP3s, and they often have more detailed sound than either of those formats.

There are several reasons why vinyl records are popular. First, they look cool. Vinyl records are typically shaped like old-fashioned records, and they come in a variety of colors and styles. Second, some people may think that vinyl records typically sound better than CDs or MP3s because it gives a more “analog” sound.

Some classic albums, such as The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, were originally released on vinyl. Today, vinyl records are still popular, and there are a number of vinyl record stores around the country. If you’re interested in buying a vinyl record, be sure to check out the selection at your local store.

Vinyl records are loved by many because of their unique sound and rarity. They can be very valuable, depending on the details of the record. The artist, the music, and the manufacturing process all play a role in determining its value. Listed above are the most expensive vinyl records ever sold, but there are many more that are just as rare and valuable.

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