Stradivari viola may fetch record $57m

ONE OF 10: The "Macdonald" Viola is one of only 10 Stradivari violas in existence. PHOTO: REUTERS


    Mar 31, 2014

    Stradivari viola may fetch record $57m


    A RARE Stradivari viola, considered to be one of the finest in existence, is expected to fetch more than US$45 million (S$57 million) in a sealed-bid 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.

    "Stradivari is the greatest violin maker of all time," said Mr 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.

    Because of the calibre and status of the instrument, a sealed-bid sale with a minimum bid of US$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 US$15.9 million, which was set in an online auction in June 2011 for the "Lady Blunt" Stradivari violin of 1721. "The finest of all Stradivari violas is generally agreed to be the 'Macdonald' of 1719," said Mr Ingles. "A Stradivari viola has always been, I suppose, the holy grail for a collector of musical instruments."