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10 Highest RIAA Gold/Platinum Record Sales: $73K Anyone? Updated 5/14/20

Posted by James Duncan on

Beatles Sgt Pepper white matte RIAA awardRIAA awards have proven to be great performers in auctions in recent years. Case in point: The highest priced sale is a for Beatles Sgt. Pepper album white matte RIAA award sold for an incredible $73,281 in 2014. Also impressive, but not in our top 10 below since it was signed on its back by George Harrison making it extra special, is a RIAA single award for the Beatles "I Want To Hold Your Hand" owned by Ringo Starr that sold for $68,750 in 2015 by Julien's Auctions. 

Outside of the "formerly owned by a Beatle" category it's clear that any award sales at a level over $70K are an anomaly that occurs when an uber-rich super fan meets an opportunity to buy. However, there are also a great number of RIAA awards that have sold for north of $15K every year for the last decade, proving the popularity of these awards with collectors.

Here's a list of the top 10 highest prices attained by RIAA awards in the marketplace, at least those sales for which prices were publicly available when this was written. We try not to include awards that were signed by artists, since that obviously increases value exponentially. These are just prices of RIAA awards sold at auctions around the world. Lots of ties expand the list, and lots of appearances by the Beatles, which is no surprise:

Listed by Artist Album/Single, Year/Format, Presented To, Price, Auction House/Seller, Date Sold. (Not familiar with RIAA award terms "white matte" and "floater,” etc? Interested in knowing more about RIAA awards? Subscribe to our free bi-weekly newsletter and get our 55-page MusicGoldmine RIAA and Record Award Guide free plus a 15% discount code here.)

1. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte* presented to the Beatles, $73,214 (£43,750)Christie's, 6/20/14

2. The Doors, Morrison Hotel, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to The Doors, $32,000, Julien's Auctions, 5/19/18

3 (tie). The Beatles, Magical Mystery Tour, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to the Beatles, $30,880 (£20,000)Christie's, 6/12/12

3 (tie). John Lennon and Yoko Ono, Plastic Ono Band, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte* presented to John Ono Lennon, $30,880 (£20,000)Christie's, 6/12/12

4. The Beatles, Abbey Road, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to the Beatles, $30,400^ (£20,000)Christie's, 6/26/13

5. The Who, Live At Leeds, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to Keith Moon, $25,133 (£13,200)Christie's, 11/21/06

6. The Beatles, Hey Jude, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to the Beatles, $25,090 (£16,250)Christie's, 6/12/12

7. Pink Floyd, Dark Side of the Moon, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to Richard Wright, $25,000, Nate D. Sanders Auction House, 6/22/17

8. The Beatles, The Beatles ("White Album"), Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to the Beatles, $22,633 (£13,750)Christie's, 6/14/11

9. Elvis Presley, "Can't Help Falling In Love", Gold Single 1964-74 white matte presented to Elvis Presley, $22,000, Heritage Auctions, 9/20/15

10. Johnny Cash, Live At Folsom Prison, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to the Mr. and Mrs. Ray Cash, $21,600, Sotheby's, 9/16/04

And here are the next ten, including ties, in case you're interested:

11. The Beatles, "A Hard Day's Night", Gold Single 1964-74 white matte with "coin" presented to The Beatles, $20,900 (£13,750), Christie's, 6/26/13

12 (tie). Michael Jackson, Thriller, Platinum Album 1982-85 strip plate* presented to Michael Jackson, $20,000, Julien's Auctions, 6/26/11

12 (tie). The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to the Beatles, $20,000, Julien's Auctions, 5/21/16.

12 (tie). The Beatles, "Hey Jude", Gold Single 1975-81 floater* presented to The Beatles, $20,000, Julien's Auctions, 11/4/17

12 (tie). Queen, "Bohemian Rhapsody", Gold Single 1975-81 floater presented to Freddie Mercury, $20,000, Heritage Auctions, 3/16/19

13. The Beatles, "A Hard Day's Night", Gold Single 1964-74 white matte with "coin" presented to The Beatles, $19,891 (£11,875), Christie's, 6/20/14 (Note: It's not known for certain but quite possible that this is the same award sold a year earlier for $20,900).

14. Michael Jackson, Thriller, Gold Album 1986-89 flower hologram* presented to Epic Records, $18,750, Julien's Auctions, 6/26/11

15. The Beatles, "Yesterday", Gold Single 1964-74 white matte presented to The Beatles, $18,050 (£11,875), Christie's, 6/26/13

16. The Beatles, "I Want To Hold Your Hand", Gold Single 1964-74 white matte presented to the Beatles, $17,920, Julien's Auctions, 5/21/16.

17. Jimi Hendrix, Smash Hits, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to Jimi Hendrix, $17,500, Julien's Auctions, 5/19/18 

18. The Beatles, Abbey Road, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to the Beatles, $16,730Christie's, 12/17/04

19 (tie). Jimi Hendrix, Woodstock, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to Jimi Hendrix, $16,250, Julien's Auctions, 5/19/18 

19 (tie). Jimi Hendrix, Electric Ladyland, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to Jimi Hendrix, $16,250, Julien's Auctions, 5/19/18 

19 (tie). The Beatles, Rubber Soul, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to The Beatles, $16,250, Heritage Auctions, 7/21/18

20. The Rolling Stones, "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction", Gold Single 1964-74 white matte, $16,000, presented to Brian Jones of the Rolling Stones, Heritage Auctions, 8/10/13   

Takeaways for collectors:

  • Very famous artists and songs are obviously the most coveted
  • The "presented to" is important (artist presentations are the most popular)
  • Death, sadly as always, can spike the value of collectibles. Note the appearance of Michael Jackson awards in the first years after his untimely 2009 passing. 
  • While 1964-74 "white matte" awards clearly garner the highest prices
  • While white mattes dominate the top 10, it is interesting to see three newer RIAA format awards appearing in spots 10 thru 20, including a 1975-81 floater,* a 1982-85 strip plate* and a 1986-89 flower hologram* award as these formats become older and more collectible.

Check out our current selection of RIAA and other awards here.

*Not familiar with the terms "white matte" and "floater"? Interested in knowing more about RIAA awards and what makes them great to add to your collection? Subscribe to our free bi-weekly newsletter and get our 55-page MusicGoldmine RIAA and Record Award Guide free plus a 15% discount code here.

^Amount in U.S. dollars was lower due to British pound exchange rate fluctuation.

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