One of only two known original copies of Frank Wilson's Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) which was sold in an online auction conducted by John Manship of www.raresoulman.co.uk for £25,742.

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The story goes that Wilson, then a moderately successful Motown producer, cut the disc in late 1965 with a scheduled release date on the Motown subsidiary label Soul of December 23. But he was to incur the wrath of Motown head Berry Gordy whose plans for Wilson were as a songwriter and producer rather than a singer. He put a rapid end to a promising performing career, demanding the disc be destroyed.

The existence of Soul disc number 35019 was unknown until an early researcher at the Motown archive in Los Angeles unearthed a copy in 1977 and played it to the legendary Northern Soul bootlegger Simon Soussan. With his ear for a good tune and marketing know-how, he immediately sent acetates to the UK under the guise of Eddie Foster. It became Northern's biggest ever find and an instant anthem when it was first heard on the soul music scene in England.

After much debate as to its real identity, Frank Wilson - who was to achieve hits with The Supremes and The Four Tops among others - was later given credit for the song that crops up on dozens of compilations, has a million hits on YouTube and was recently used in an advert for Kentucky Fried Chicken.

This particular seven-inch vinyl single, found in Los Angeles, has a fabled collecting history and remains in a private collection in Lancashire.

But the only other known copy, recovered a decade ago from a worker at the record label's pressing plant ARP in Detroit, sold via an online auction last month organised by record dealer John Manship of www.raresoulman.co.uk in Leicestershire. The vendor was Kenny Burrell, a DJ and record collector from Fife who bought it for $22,000 from a Canadian record dealer, shortly after its discovery in 1997.

Most collectors agree that the disc was significantly devalued when the erstwhile owner asked Frank Wilson to personally inscribe his copy To Kenny… in blue felt tip on the label a few years ago. But it proved a solid investment for Mr Burrell. When the auction finally closed on April 29, bidding had reached £25,742 - not as much as some had predicted but enough to confirm the status of Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) as the world's most expensive single.

There is an addendum to this story. It has subsequently emerged that it was once policy at ARP to retain three copies of every record ever pressed: it was only when storage became an issue that they thinned out their archive, kept just one copy of each release and threw a mouth-watering collection of classic vinyl into a skip. It allows the faint possibility that more 1965 copies of Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) may still be out there.

By Roland Arkell