FREE U.S. shipping! Get free newsletter and 15% off code HERE



10 Highest RIAA Gold/Platinum Record Sales: $91K Anyone? Updated Sept. 2023

Posted by James Duncan on

Beatles Sgt Pepper white matte RIAA awardRIAA awards have proven to be great performers in auctions in recent years and continue to set records. Case in point: The highest priced sale is for a Beatles Hey Jude white matte RIAA Gold Album award, sold for $91,000 in May 2023. Notably it was owned by Julian Lennon giving it extra special provenance and meaning given he is John Lennon's son and the namesake of the album. The award came with a NFT as well. The second spot is held by a Beatles Abbey Road album RIAA white matte award, also from Julian Lennon’s collection.

There are numerous other white mattes from the Julian Lennon collection that sold for top amounts, but we’ve omitted some of them here to show prices attained by some other sales. Next up in price attained outside of the 2023 Julian Lennon sale is a Sgt. Pepper album white matte RIAA Gold Album award, which sold for $73,214 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 a wealthy 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, Hey Jude, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte* presented to the Beatles, $91,000, Julien’s 5/20/23

2. The Beatles, Abbey Road, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to the Beatles, $78,000Julien's, 5/20/23

3. 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

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

5. (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

5. (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

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

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

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

9. 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

10. 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

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

11. 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

12. 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

13. Donna Summer, "Last Dance", Gold Single 1975-81 floater* presented to Donna Summer, $21,420, Christies, 6/29/23

14. 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

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

15 (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.

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

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

16. 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).

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

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

19. 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.

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

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 dominate the top 10, it is interesting to see three newer RIAA format awards appearing in spots 10 thru 20, including a pair of 1975-81 floaters,* 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 80+ 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.

Related Articles

This Week In Music History Dec 18-31
This Week In Music History Dec 18-31
The week in music history brought to you by MusicGoldmine.com. Just a couple of highlights from this week in music hi...
Read More
Protecting Your Record Awards (and Investment)
Protecting Your Record Awards (and Investment)
As we've acquired collections of awards and memorabilia from record industry executives, artist teams and others, we ...
Read More
This Day In Music History Dec 4-17
This Day In Music History Dec 4-17
The week in music history brought to you by MusicGoldmine.com. Just a couple of highlights from this week in music hi...
Read More

4 comments


  • Editor’s Note: Thanks for the comment Summerfan, we’ve added the top Donna Summer award sale from that auction to the list — she slots in at #13, at least as of Sept. 2023!

    Editor on

  • Several of Donna Summer’s personally owned awards were sold at very high prices at the recent Christie’s auction of her estate.

    Summerfan on

  • Editor’s Note: Thanks for the comment. Since the data in #1 and #8 are both auction sales independent of one another, there is no way to know whether in those cases it was the same award or not. However, all evidence points to the conclusion that there was more than a single copy made of every Beatles album and single award. How many more is not known. Keep in mind that then, just as today, the artists, their management, record label executives, and others were fully empowered by the RIAA to determine what presentations were printed on the plates (as long as the presentations were made to those who contributed to the creation or marketing of the record) and also who the awards were given to. In the white matte award era, the presentations were mostly limited to group members, group name, record label and a very few others, but the number of plaques made was almost always more than one per presentation. Estimates from the New York Frame & Picture Co. family members put the number per white matte RIAA award title roughly between 5 and 25, but they have no records or information about the breakdown of the presentations per title.

    Editor on

  • I’m assuming that repeats like #1 and #8 (both “Hey Jude” Gold awards presented to The Beatles) are the same physical award that is changing hands? (or are there ever multiples?)

    Jeremy on

Leave a comment

Please note, comments are moderated before they are published

You Might Like