The violin believed to have been played by the bandleader on the Titanic while the boat sank in 1912 has sold at auction for over $1.7 million.

The violin was reportedly just one of the many artifacts salvaged from the Titanic wreckage to be sold at UK auction house Henry Aldridge and Son. And, collector Craig Sopin, who helped authenticate the instrument, believes it is the artifact from the Titanic that has gone for the highest price.

“This figure is going to be hard to beat… I can’t think of anything else that is more iconic to come off that ship,” Sopin said.

Survivors have said that Wallace Hartley, the man who owned the violin, and his band played during the chaotic evacuation of the sinking ship to keep the passengers as calm as possible. The violin was found a few days after the ship sunk strapped to Hartley’s body. It was reportedly returned to his fiancé, Maria, who had bought him the violin as an engagement present. It reportedly resurfaced in 2006.

Also available at the auction was the violin prop used in the 1997 film Titanic, directed by James Cameron. The film recreated Hartley’s violin playing as the boat sank with Jonathan Evans-Jones as Hartley playing “Nearer My God To Thee.”

Olivia Truffaut-Wong

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