Violin once played by Fritz Kreisler at center of dispute

Posted on: February 23, 2015

In Friday’s (2/20) New York Times, Monica Houston-Waesch and Jennifer Smith write that German violinist Frank Peter Zimmermann, “scheduled to perform with the New York Philharmonic next week, could arrive without the Stradivarius violin that he has played for more than a decade.… Zimmermann [rents the violin] through an arrangement, struck with a now-defunct German bank, WestLB AG. That contract [was] set to expire Sunday night…. The musician has offered to buy the violin from Portigon Financial Services AG, a successor firm that is helping to wind down the bank’s holdings … [but] while the contract includes a preferred-buyer option for Mr. Zimmermann, the set price ‘is so far above the appraised value’ of the Stradivarius that he refuses to pay it, said his adviser, Karl-Joachim Hytrek…. The Stradivarius that Mr. Zimmermann plays is said to have been valued at between €4.5 million and €5 million ($5.1 million and $5.7 million)…. the musician’s bid was close to the reported appraised value…. Under European Union regulations, Portigon must adhere to the terms of the lease arrangement until it expires on Sunday night… ‘On Monday, Portigon is no longer bound by the lease agreement,’ [Hytrek] said. ‘Then the question can be asked if they can sell it to him.’ ”

Posted February 23, 2015