Priced at a record $45 million, “Macdonald” viola fails to sell

Posted on: June 26, 2014

In Wednesday’s (6/25) New York Times, Michael Cooper reports, “Maybe the rare-instrument market is showing signs of coming back to earth a bit, or maybe Sotheby’s and Ingles & Hayday simply asked for too much money for a fiddle. Whatever the reason, the ‘Macdonald’ viola—a rare Stradivari viola once owned and played by Peter Schidlof of the Amadeus Quartet—failed to attract a buy when a sealed-bid sale came to an end on Wednesday and no one had offered to pay the record $45 million asking price. The asking price was far more than previous instruments had fetched. In 2011 the ‘Lady Blunt’ Stradivari violin set an auction record when it was sold for $15.9 million. Sotheby’s and Ingles & Hayday … had justified the far higher price for the ‘Macdonald’ viola, which is named for one of its early-19th-century owners, on the grounds that there are far fewer intact violas made by Antonio Stradivari than violins.” Cooper notes that the “Macdonald” viola was “not the only Stradivari that failed to sell this month. Earlier this month a Stradivari violin that had been valued at as much as $10 million went unsold at Christie’s, Bloomberg reported.”

Posted June 26, 2014