Violins likely to be stars of Christie’s fine instruments sale

Posted on: April 28, 2010

In Wednesday’s (4/28) Wall Street Journal, Kelly Crow writes, “At Christie’s Fine Musical Instruments sale on Wednesday, collectors expect the smallest instrument in the string family—the violin—to outsell its larger cousins, the viola and the cello. A look at last year’s auctions reveals why. Christie’s last year sold $1.2 million worth of vintage violins, easily surpassing its $465,125 in sales from cellos and its $58,313 from violas. That’s partly a reflection of supply: Between the 16th and 18th centuries, master luthiers in Italy like Antonio Stradivari and Giovanni Guadagnini perfected the violin’s hourglass construction and sold hundreds of instruments to Europe’s courtly orchestras. … Violins also benefit from having a broader market. Like a soprano, this instrument usually gets assigned the melody in any piece of music, and that versatility makes it popular in genres as diverse as bluegrass and jazz. … Christie’s sale today includes a 1753 violin made in Milan by Guadagnini, priced to sell for at least $350,000. In April 2008, Christie’s sold a similar, 1755 Milanese violin by the same maker for $589,000, above its $400,000 high estimate.”

Posted April 28, 2010