In a world where music consumers don’t think twice about illegally downloading an album or cherry-picking singles rather than investing in a whole record, it’s exponentially more difficult for artists to achieve Gold (500,000 copies shipped) or, god forbid, Platinum record (1,000,000) status from the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) than it was just two decades ago.
Popular ‘90s acts like R.E.M. and Pearl Jam were expected to immediately move millions of their records upon release, lest they be considered a commercial failure. Now, any band that even approaches gold with an album is a sales juggernaut who must be milked for all they’re worth. For instance, it was news when woodsy indie rockers Bon Iver recently passed 500,000 copies sold for a five-year-old album and its two-year-old follow-up.
None of this can mean good things for the CD tower manufacturing sector, but auctioneers of platinum and gold record awards (usually a framed plaque including the the album cover and a random overstock CD or record re-labeled and painted in the corresponding color) should be happy. As the Julien’s Auctions website explains, when there are 120 awards celebrating a platinum Rolling Stones record in existence and even just a handful are offered for sale, supply exceeds demand and the prices drop.
That’s not to say that sales awards for popular ‘70s, ‘80s and ‘90s can’t be worth a pretty penny. What follows are five of the highest-selling platinum records in auction history.
5. The Cars – Candy O
A platinum award for The Cars’ Candy-O, which features classics like “Let’s Go” and “It’s All I Can Do,” sold for $2,048 at a December 2012 auction by Julien’s of Hollywood. Thanks to that sultry album cover Ric Ocasek and company graced the follow-up to their debut with (perhaps a fail-safe to avoid a sophomore sales slump), we can’t necessarily assume that the buyer was a Cars fan.