If you're a vinyl aficionado, you'll want to check if you have any of these sought-after albums in your own collection.


Despite how convenient digital albums and music streaming services are, there's something undeniably special about vinyl records. And though they were once considered old-fashioned, records are now making a comeback, with current artists releasing their brand-new albums as vinyls in addition to digital mediums. That doesn't change the value of some vintage records, though. In fact, there are a number of older vinyls that now sell for staggering prices; knowing the value of certain records makes searching for them almost like a treasure hunt for music aficionados. From rock to hip hop, here are a few of the most valuable records out there—a few of which may surprise you.

The Beatles White Album

When talking about vinyl records—or music in general for that matter—you have to mention The Beatles, and within that, the iconic "White Album." "The original vinyl pressings of the album were actually numbered," says Adam Zengel, Director of Entertainment Operations at Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Atlantic City. "The first pressing ever created was number "0000001" and sold by Ringo Starr in 2015 for $790,000. The fact that an original band member and a Beatle owned the album adds to the rarity and story behind it."

Elvis Presley's Rare Recording

Acetates and test pressings are the first runs of vinyl that the rest of the copies are made from; the fact that very few of these exist for any given album makes them highly collectible. "Musicians love musicians and music (makes sense, right?), so when Jack White bought a test pressing of Elvis Presley's first ever recording for $300,000 in 2015, no one should have been surprised," shares Zengel. "If Jack White ever resells this album, I imagine it will go for even a higher price now that the story of its life has expanded."

stack of vinyl records in box
Credit: Popartic / Getty Images

Wu-Tang Clan's Impressive Sale

Although not an actual vinyl album, you can't talk about rare recordings without talking about Wu-Tang Clan's "Once Upon a Time in Shaolin." "This recording is so infamous, a documentary was released in 2016 about it," says Zengel. "Only one CD exists of this recording, which took take place over several years in the early 2000s. It sold for $2,000,000 in 2015 to the pharmaceutical mogul, and often vilified, Martin Shkreli."

A Surprising Ebay Find

The original pressings of Madonna's "Like a Prayer" album were sprayed with essential oils from the patchouli plant, which was meant to remind you of being in church. "Although not nearly as rare as other albums, copies go for around $100 on eBay quite regularly," says Zengel. "I'm not sure of any other albums out there that have a smell on them meant to evoke a visceral sensory response."

Don't Forget the Dave Matthews Band

Personal desire and emotion can be a driving factor in seeking out rare recordings. "I am a self-proclaimed 'super fan' of the Dave Matthews Band, and within that my favorite album being 'Before These Crowded Streets,' which was released in 1998 before the resurgence of vinyl," says Zengel. "Copies of the album are scarce and they go for around $500 on eBay and other sites. However, albums signed by all five members of the original band can go for several thousand dollars, especially the ones with LeRoi Moore, a founding member of the band, who passed away in 2008 due to a tragic ATV accident."

Comments (1)

Martha Stewart Member
October 16, 2021
It's actually shocking how poorly-researched and incorrect this article is.