One of the world’s rarest records has resurfaced — several vinyl copies of Prince’s “Black Album,” which the eccentric pop legend had demanded destroyed 30 years ago.
Recordmecca, a collector’s site owned by a former executive on Prince’s Warner Brothers label, on Wednesday was selling a coveted sealed vinyl copy of the album for $15,000.
The Purple Rain star, then at the height of his fame, in December 1987 sought to release music like no one had attempted before — sending it to stores completely secretly, without his name or any art on it.
Warner, with which he had legendary feuds, discouraged Prince but eventually relented and ordered the pressing of the vinyl — which has no actual title but was informally called the “Black Album” for its blank, dark cover.
But Prince soon afterward declared that he had a spiritual revelation that the album was “evil” and demanded the destruction of all copies.
Warner largely succeeded in seizing and destroying the more than 500,000 copies at their factories. But Recordmecca owner Jeff Gold, who worked with Prince at Warner, said he was recently contacted by a fellow former executive who came upon five copies.
Gold said that the executive, who requested anonymity, had been sending records to his own daughter, who had bought a first turntable amid vinyl’s rebirth.
Sifting through his collection, the executive discovered two envelopes distributed within Warner. Inside were five copies of the “Black Album.”
“For 30 years, the two mailers had sat unopened among their other boxed-up vinyl,” Gold wrote.
The former executive decided to sell three copies. Gold was offering one copy online, saying he already sold another one directly and would list the third one later.
Gold said he would attach certificates of authenticity.
Prince in late 1994 finally released the “Black Album” on limited-edition CDs and cassettes but not vinyl, making the record a holy grail for record collectors.
Prince resented Warner’s constraints and in the 1990s changed his name to an unpronounceable symbol in hopes of getting out of contractual conditions.
He finally made peace with Warner in 2014 in a deal that gave him control over his classic albums. He died two years later at his Paisley Park estate in Minnesota from an accidental overdose of painkillers.