The violin played by the bandmaster of the Titanic to calm passengers as it sank sold at auction for £900,000 ($1.45 million) on Saturday, a world record fee for memorabilia from the doomed liner.
The instrument belonging to Wallace Hartley was found strapped to his body after he drowned with his seven bandmates and some 1,500 others on board the supposedly unsinkable ship in 1912.
It was sold to a British collector after a feverish 10-minute battle between telephone bidders at Titanic specialist auctioneers Henry Aldridge and Son in Devizes, southwest England.
The instrument carries an inscription from the 33-year-old’s fiancee Maria Robinson to mark their engagement and was sold with its leather luggage case, initialled W.H.H, in which it was found.
For decades the violin was believed lost but it was found in the attic of a house in northwest England in 2006, prompting a debate about its authenticity, which experts only recently resolved.
Hartley’s band played the hymn “Nearer, My God, to Thee” to try to calm passengers while they climbed into lifeboats as the Titanic sank beneath the icy waves in the North Atlantic on April 15, 1912, after hitting an iceberg. Hartley and his seven fellow band members all died after choosing to play on.