Sale of rare Stradivari viola could set world auction record

Thu Mar 27, 2014 1:54pm EDT
 
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By Patricia Reaney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A rare Stradivari viola, considered to be one of the finest in existence, is expected to fetch more than $45 million in a sealed bids sale this spring, which would set a world record for the most expensive musical instrument ever sold.

The 'MacDonald' Viola, made by the famed Italian artisan Antonio Stradivari in 1719, is the first to be on the market in 50 years, according to Sotheby's auction house.

It is also one of only two Stradivari violas still privately owned. The other is held in the Library of Congress in Washington, DC.

"Stradivari is the greatest violin maker of all time," said Tim Ingles, director of the London-based fine instruments auction house Ingles & Hayday, which is conducting the sale with Sotheby's.

"The amazing thing about violas is that there is such a small number of them in existence - only 10 complete violas today, so there is a huge rarity factor," he added in an interview with Reuters.

Because of the caliber and status of the instrument, a sealed bid sale with a minimum bid of $45 million was decided as the best way to combine the exclusive feel of a private sale with the excitement of an auction. The highest bidder will be announced on June 25.

The world auction price for a musical instrument is $15.9 million, which was set in an online auction in June 2011 for the 'Lady Blunt' Stradivari violin of 1721.

HOLY GRAIL FOR MUSIC INSTRUMENT COLLECTORS   Continued...

 
Violist David Aaron Carpenter of the U.S. plays the 'Macdonald' Viola by Antonio Stradivari, made in 1719, at Sotheby's gallery in New York March 27, 2014. REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz