A Stradivarius violin from 1721 sold to an anonymous bidder for a record price of £9,808,000 ($15,894,000) in an online auction on Monday. All of the proceeds from the sale will go directly to aid victims of Japan's earthquake and tsunami.
Dubbed ‘Lady Blunt’ for its thirty-year ownership by Lady Anne Blunt, granddaughter of the poet Lord Byron, the instrument is said to be in remarkable condition with most of its original features and varnish largely intact. Auctioneer Tarisio said from London that it is possibly the most pristine violin made by Antonio Stradivari still in commercial circulation. About 600 of his sought-after instruments are known to still exist.
The "Lady Blunt" last sold privately for over $10 million dollars. The previous record price for a violin at auction was $3.6 million for the 1697 “Molitor” Stradivarius sold by Tarisio in New York last year.
“Rarely does a Stradivarius of this quality and with such significant historical provenance come up for sale,” said Christopher Reuning of Reuning & Son Violins in Boston.
Says Jason Price, Director of Tarisio, “Fine instruments appreciate in value just like fine works of art, and the ‘Lady Blunt’ is the most significant violin that a collector can buy. In the world of stringed instruments, it is the equivalent of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa or Michelangelo’s David.”
The Nippon Music Foundation, the consignor, plans to use the proceeds for its Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. The March 11 disaster left 23,000 dead or missing and destroyed more than 200,000 homes, according to reports.
Says Ms. Kazuko Shiomi, President of the Nippon Music Foundation, “While this violin was very important to our collection, the needs of our fellow Japanese people after the March 11 tragedy have proven that we all need to help, in any way we can. The donation will be put to immediate use on the ground in Japan.”