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10 Highest RIAA Gold/Platinum Record Sales: $68K Anyone?

Posted by James Duncan on

Beatles Sgt Pepper white matte RIAA awardRIAA awards have proven to be great performers in auctions in recent years. The actual highest sale is a RIAA single award for the Beatles "I Want To Hold Your Hand" that was owned by Ringo Starr. It was also signed on the back by George Harrison and was sold for a whopping $68,750 in 2015 by Julien's Auctions. The second highest was in the same auction at $40,625 for a RIAA LP award for The Beatles Second Album, also previously owned by Starr.

So it's pretty obvious that awards owned by an actual Beatle will be worth a lot but what about awards with less illustrious provenance or origin?

The one that tops the "not formerly owned by a Beatle" list comes in at an similarly healthy $32K. That top sale is perhaps 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. 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

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

2. 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

3. 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

4 (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.

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

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

5. 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.

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

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

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

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

8. 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   

9. The Beatles, "A Hard Day's Night"Gold Single 1964-74 white matte presented to the Beatles, $15,000, Julien's Auctions, 5/21/16

10. The Beatles, "I Want To Hold Your Hand", Gold Single 1964-74 white matte presented to Capitol Records, $13,750, Heritage Auctions, 4/15/18

And here are the next five, in case you're interested:

11 (tie). Various Artists, Woodstock, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to Jimi Hendrix, $13,000, Julien's Auctions, 5/19/18

11 (tie). Jimi Hendrix, Electic Ladyland, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to Jimi Hendrix, $13,000, Julien's Auctions, 5/19/18

12. The Beatles, Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, Gold Album 1964-74 white matte presented to the Beatles, $12,800, Julien's Auctions, 5/19/18.

13 (tie). Jimi Hendrix, Smash Hits, Gold LP 1975-81 floater presented to The Jimi Hendrix Experience, $12,500, Heritage Auctions, 6/18/17 

13 (tie). Otis Redding, "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay", Gold Single 1964-74 white matte presented to Volt Records, $12,500, Heritage Auctions, 3/18/17

13 (tie). The Jimi Hendrix Experience, Are You Experienced, Gold LP 1986-89 flower hologram presented to The Jimi Hendrix Experience, $12,500, Heritage Auctions, 6/18/17 

13 (tie). The Beatles, "I Want To Hold Your Hand", Gold Single 1964-74 white matte presented to The Beatles, $12,500, Julien's Auctions, 5/20/17

14. Elvis Presley, Blue Hawaii, Gold LP 1964-74 white matte presented to Elvis Presley, $12,000, The Auction at Graceland, 8/12/18

15. The Doors, "Light My Fire", Gold Single 1964-74 white matte* presented to Jim Morrison, $11,875, Heritage Auctions, 3/16/19

Takeaways for collectors:

  • Very famous artists and songs are obviously the most coveted
  • The "presented to" is important (artist presentations are the most popular)
  • While 1964-74 "white matte" awards clearly garner the highest prices it is interesting to see two newer 1975-81 "floater" awards in the top 15 (Jimi Hendrix Smash Hits and the Beatles "Hey Jude") and even a 1986-89 "flower hologram" award as well (The Jimi Hendrix Experience Are You Experienced).

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

*Not familiar with the terms "white matte" and "floater" or want to know more about RIAA awards generally? Check out our in-depth RIAA Awards Guide here.

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