LONDON, Oct. 19 (UPI) -- The violin played by the Titanic's band leader to calm passengers as the ocean liner sank was sold at auction for $1,454,400, a British auction house said.
It took officials some seven years to authenticate the violin, owned by Titanic band leader Wallace Hartley, whose band famously played on while the Titanic sank. Hartley died along with 1,517 others when the ship sank in the northern Atlantic.
Auctioneer Alan Aldridge said experts authenticated the violin in part because the wood still has in it traces of salt from the ocean water, the BBC said Saturday.
A diary entry by Hartley's fiancee, Maria Robinson, indicates the violin was plucked from the water along with Hartley's body after being strapped in a leather case. The instrument was returned to her and upon her death it was donated to a local Salvation Army store. From there, it changed hands several times until it was gifted to the person who put it up for auction. The identities of the buyer and seller were not disclosed.
Previously, the most expensive piece of Titanic memorabilia was thought to be a set of original blueprints used in the inquiry into the ship's sinking. The plans sold for $355,520 in 2011, the BBC said.