This may be the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen on eBay.

The owner, Paul Mawhinney, calls it The World’s Greatest Music Collection, and it would be hard to argue. Over the last 50 years, he has bought and collected over 3 million records and more than 300,000 CDs, in every genre. He estimates it would take 57 years to listen to every one of the more than six million songs. I don’t know how much music they have in the Library of Congress, but this must be the largest privately-owned music collection in the world.

On his website, Mawhinney says,

The preservation of a society’s music is every bit as vital as the preservation of its art and literature. Unfortunately two things have impeded our ability to preserve our precious musical heritage: Major record labels have destroyed the original master tapes of decades of American musical history. In countless cases, the original recordings no longer exist. Many have been digitized; transferred to compact disks. But all too many, just destroyed.

Digital preservation would be fine were it not for the fact that CDs have a life-span of just 15 to 20 years. In a few short years, the information on your CDs will just begin to disappear. Forever.

But it’s more than merely preserving the songs. It’s also about the art, the photography, and liner notes, and the rich, warm sound of the original analog recordings. You can look at a digitally reproduced image of the Mona Lisa, but it can’t compare with the joy of experiencing the original. The music is no different.

Mawhinney keeps the collection in a 16,000-square-foot climate-controlled warehouse, so it’s not going to fit in your basement. But if you have a lot of dough, he’s taking bids now. He estimates the value of the collection at over $50,000,000, but has set a minimum bid of $3,000,000, with no reserve, which means the highest bid takes it.

Turntables not included.

[thanks to Fran Goedeker for the link]