A funny thing happened since our last Top 30 list of the most expensive items sold on Discogs (you know, when we learned of a new record for the upper limit in our marketplace): our community set yet another record.
Granted, records are made to be broken. WHOA WHOA WHOA, wait, I mean like RECORD records. Not VINYL records; those aren’t made to be broken! They’re made to be listened to, or at the very least hoarded in your basement until your great grandchildren get a chance to sort through your estate while rolling their eyes at the complete lack of post-glitchcore dubglam in your collection. Anyway, granted, RECORD records, those are made to be broken. And, double granted, we’re still dedicated first and foremost to our database (now over 7.2 million served!) and to ensuring that our marketplace is a comfy environment for all buyers and sellers, whether they’re listing a well-loved copy of “Rumours” for a bargain or taking out a loan on a limited edition Ryan Adams box set.
New marketplace ceiling
Still, this new marketplace ceiling is surprising for two reasons. First, and most obviously: floating from one high water mark to another within the span of 31 days is not standard procedure. After all, it took our marketplace a year to move on from “Chung King Can Suck It” at $6,048 to David Bowie‘s second album at $6,826. [For what it’s worth, this might be the last time you ever see the phrase “Chung King Can Suck It” in a Discogs Blog post, so bask in the warm glory of those words while you still can.]
Second: the difference between the new most expensive item and that rare Bowie pressing is substantial. We’re not talking about an extra $800 (not that there’s anything wrong with that). Nor is it a matter of $1,000, $2,000 or even $5k having been added to the new standard for extraordinary sales. Goodbye, $6826. Hello, $15,000.
Maybe I’m easy to impress, but that figure is shocking no matter how many times I read it. That’d get you a Ford Fiesta with enough left over for several tanks of gas! Or, hell, 15,000 well-loved copies of Rumours. Shocking though it may be, though, it may make a little more sense when you find out that the item in question is an original 1987 promo copy of “The Black Album“, as released by the artist eternally known as Prince.
Shelved before release date
Hmm. Perhaps “released” isn’t the right word. This item can fetch ‘down payment on a sensible home’ prices because the man who created it did everything to make sure it never reached the public. It simply shouldn’t exist. Prince shelved “The Black Album” just a week before the intended ’87 release date, resulting in the destruction of about half a million copies that were already pressed and waiting to be shipped. Promos that had already been sent to clubs and DJs were also recalled and destroyed. That’s where the story would have ended, but a limited number of those promos made it into the hands of collectors and served as the source of bootlegs until the album was officially released in 1994. This double 12″ DJ version of the Black Album from the US is one of the great rarities a vinyl collector could ever hope to find.
Setting aside rarity, though, it’s obvious that the price tag on this Black Album promo has also been affected by recent events. Just as with last month’s Bowie-related marketplace record, the Purple One’s passing can almost certainly be linked directly to the cost that a collector is willing to pay for an item this scarce.
More importantly, just as with that Bowie album, any excitement that might normally accompany a new most expensive item on Discogs is tempered by the loss of an irreplaceable musical presence. There’s a giant hole in our lives now, and it’s shaped like…well, whatever that love symbol is shaped like. You can’t fill that hole with a fleet of little red Corvettes.
If there’s any one person who wouldn’t have wanted to go out like that, though, you’d think it would be Prince. What would he have said about an elaborate essay detailing his liquid guitar leads or his mastery of studio vocal treatments, clicking and clacking on my Murder She Wrote typewriter as the tears rolled down my beak? Nah. You gotta write that album-closing ballad as if it were the most exhilarating thing in the known universe, even if it’s going make you feel so blue you’re ultraviolet. If the party’s over, you’ve still got to keep on celebrating.
So tonight I’m gonna party like, uh, like I know how to party! On second thought, maybe not tonight. Tonight I’m gonna watch some reruns and turn in early. But I’m gonna do it all night! You heard me: I’m gonna turn in early all night. Boom! Nailed it! And then maybe, just maybe, I’ll go crazy in a couple days. I’m gonna play in the sunshine. I’m gonna get delirious. And then I’m going to [censored] with my [redacted] until [yikes], because you know I know how to [nope, just nope]. And that’s the way Prince would have wanted it.
Oh, uh, but first I’m going to take one last look at the Discogs Top 30 Most Expensive Items Sold List from April 2016. Fun fact: there are actually 29 other items on that list. Cool! Now head on over to the list to see what else is waiting and you can take me with you.