Japanese foundation to auction Lady Blunt Stradivari violin
In the world of violins, the Lady Blunt is royalty.
Built in 1721 by Antonio Stradivari, the well-preserved violin sold for a record sum at auction in 1971. Now it is set to repeat that feat. This week, the Nippon Music Foundation in Tokyo announced that it will auction the instrument on June 20, with all proceeds going to the victims of the earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
Four decades ago, the violin sold at Sotheby’s for over $ 200,000, causing gasps in the London auction house. Nippon Music, which bought it in a private sale in 2008, has spent more than $ 10 million.
The instrument is valuable in large part because so few have played it. The original varnish shimmers, the sharply curved edges are not dulled by handling and the tool marks from Stradivari are still visible on the maple and spruce body.
“I remember being very unimpressed at first with how it looked because – I say this as a compliment – it looks like a brand new violin. Then you realize, ‘1721, oh my gosh ‘”said Itzhak Perlman, the famous concert violinist who plays a Stradivari violin and a violin made by the roughly contemporary Guarneri family.
Concert violinist Pinchas Zukerman, who plays a Guarneri, played the Lady Blunt briefly before the 1971 Sotheby’s sale and considers it a museum piece, not intended for Carnegie Hall without a major overhaul first. “Even Vivaldi, you couldn’t play on this stuff now,” he said in a telephone interview. “You’d crack him if you put too much pressure on it.” ”
The violin is named after one of the first owners, the English aristocrat Lady Anne Blunt, granddaughter of Lord Byron and importer of Arabian horses from Egypt. It is one of the 600 Stradivari instruments existing today. (The instrument is known as the Stradivarius because Italian craftsman Stradivari put a Latinized version of its name on the labels.)
Unlike works of art, the most sought after violins are sold privately, not at auction, in part to give musicians and their patrons more time and flexibility to test whether the instrument is well suited.
The current auction record for a violin is $ 3.6 million for a Stradivari sold last year at Tarisio, an online house that also hosts the Lady Blunt sale.
Tarisio director Jason Price brought the violin to New York City from Tokyo earlier this month, locked it in a non-sprinkler fireproof safe in Tarisio’s offices, and occasionally pulled it out to show it off. collectors and curious musicians. The Violin will tour approximately eight cities internationally to generate interest ahead of the sale.
Peter Biddulph, a seasoned violin dealer in London, said the scarcity of a prized violin at auction could help drive up the price of the instrument. “If you want to buy the best preserved Stradivari violin in the world, this is your opportunity,” he said.
Nippon Music Foundation president Kazuko Shiomi said the group owns 19 Stradivari violins and loaned most of them to musicians.
Tsunami and earthquake victims “lost the most important thing in their lives,” she said. “We thought if we wanted to do something, we had to give up the most important element, and that is the Lady Blunt.”
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