“I know that the most joy in my life has come to me from my violin”, Albert Einstein said.
Yes, even the renowned genius has been tamed by the violin.
What makes the violin so expensive? Primarily it takes centuries to create a name that can be sold a million-dollar violin in the market today. Antonio Stradivari and Giuseppe Guarneri were only a few of the famous luthier in the world. They are famous for producing the best violins the world has ever seen and heard.
Another reason for what makes the violin expensive is because the violin is played by the best musicians in the world. If it is played by the best, the violin sounds amazing and heavenly. Lastly, the history, the story and the sentimental value of a certain violin make the instrument priceless.
Not all musicians can afford to buy these million-dollar Stradivarius. This is where wealthy benefactors and charitable trusts steps in. In this case, an investor with an interest in the arts will buy an instrument and lend it to them. It will create a symbiotic relationship between the artist and the owner. Aside from the financial investment, they benefit from a personal relationship from the player and the satisfaction that they can ask them to play for a private concert for their friends.
The following are the 10 of the most famous and expensive violins in the world.
1. The Titanic Violin
The violin owned by Wallace Hartley an English violinist and a bandleader. A modest, musician from Dewsbury in West Yorkshire. The violin was given to him by his fiancée, Maria as an engagement present. The violin was created by Arthur Catton Lancaster.
He had just got off from RMS Maurentania when his agent asked him to go with the famous Titanic, who will have its first voyage in April 1912. He agreed a decision that cost him his life and created a legend. Played by a man who personifies a bygone era of morals and values, the Titanic is more than just a violin, it is an instrument of history.
In 2013, the none-too-shabby Titanic violin was sold at $1,700,000. It is the most expensive piece of Titanic memorabilia when it was auctioned.
2. The Lady Tennant Violin
The violin was made in circa 1699 of course by the famous Antonio Stradivari. The Tennant is the most famous violin singled out in every book of Stradivari. It has been described as the first in the golden period. The gracious, gentle curves suggest Stradivari’s turning back after his experiment on the Long Strad model to the lovely shaping of his teacher, Amati.
The violin was once owned by the 19th-century violinist Charles Philippe Lafont. After his death, the Lady Tennant was acquired by the London violin dealer, W.E. Hill & Sons. They eventually sold it to Sir Charles Clow Tennant. The Scottish businessman presented this violin as a gift to his wife, Marguerite Agaranthe Miles Tennant.
On April 2005, the Lady Tennant was sold for $2,032,000 at Christie’s Auction in New York. The violin was presented on loan to the famous violinist Yang Liu through the auspices of the Stradivari Society. And in 2009, it was given on loan to Belgian violinist Yossif Ivanov.
3. The Hammer Stradivarius
In May 2006, the Hammer was sold at Christie’s Auction to an anonymous bidder for $3, 540,000.
The Hammer Stradivarius is an antique violin made by an Antonio Stradivari. It is named after a 19th-century Swedish collector, Christian Hammer. He is also the first recorded owner. The violin was brought to the US in 1911 by a violinist and teacher Bernard Sinsheimer. In the year 1992, it was acquired by a Japanese oil company in an estate sale. The Hammer was granted on loan to Kyozo Takezawa and he performed with it for the next 12 years after his acquisition. Then the auction happened in 2006.
4. The Molitor Stradivarius
The Molitor Stradivarius is an antique violin made by Antonio Stradivari. It was made in Cremona in 1697. In 1804, Juliette Recamier’s two violins came into the possession of a general in Napoleon Bonaparte’s army, Count Gabriel Jean Joseph Molitor. After his death in 1849, the violins remained in the possession of the Molitor family for nearly 7 decades.
After a generation of different purchased and ownership, the Molitor Stradivarius was sold through Tarisio Auctions in 2010. It was sold for a record of $3,600,000, the highest auction price ever paid for any musical instrument until the Lady Blunt was sold in 2011.
American violinist Anne Akiko Meyers is the current owner of the Molitor who purchased the violin from Tarisio Auctions.
5. II Cannone Guarnerius
The Paganini violin was also known as the II Cannone. They named it “canon” because of the power and sonorous quality of its tone. This is the favorite violin of Nicolo Paganini. The violin was made by the famous Cremona violin maker Guarneri and is considered as one of his masterpieces. The violin has distinct features that set it apart from modern violins. It has a slightly shorter and thicker sound box and a markedly curved neck. The violin now belongs to Genoa, a gift made by Paganini to his city in 1837. The violin is played monthly in Genoa to preserve its best condition.
The sticker price of the violin is $4,000,000.
6. The Lord Wilton
The Lord Wilton Guarnerius is an antique and valuable violin made by the Italian luthier Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri. It was made in 1742 in Cremona. The violin was named after Seymour Egerton, 4th Earl of Wilton. He is a musician, associate of Arthur Sulivan and 19th-century owner of the instrument. From 1978 to 1999, it was owned and played by Yehudi Menuhin. And after the death of Menuhin in 1999, the instrument was sold for $6,000,000. To David L. Fulton. As of 2015, Lord Wilton remains in Fulton’s possession.
7. The Mary Portman
The name of the violin rose up from its proprietor Mary Portman. The Mary Portman was initially found in 1735. It has a hypnotizing tune and catches the mood around. The bartering cost of the violin is $10,000,000.
Today, Francisco Fullana is the recipient of the magnificent “Mary Portman” Guarneri del Gesu on loan from the Stradivari Society. Thanks to his generous benefactor Karen and Clement Harrison.
8. Ex-Kochanski Guarneri
The ex-Kochanski Guarneri was made in 1741. It is considered one of the finest Guarneri instruments that exist. The violin acquired the name of one of its owners, Paul Kochanski, a Polish virtuoso who died in 1y934.
Before the violin was sold in 2009 at the price of $10, 000, 000., the legendary American violinist Aaron Rosand played the ex-Kochanski Guarneri for almost 50 years. With tears in his eyes, the violinist left his soul behind in a London hotel suite in 2009. That is how he described the sale of the instrument he had played for 5 decades. The buyer was a Russian billionaire whom Mr. Rosand declined to identify.
9. Carrodus Guarneri
Built in 1743, the Carrodus belonged to the 18th-century English violinist John Carrodus. Its interesting origins are in the tree from which its wood came. According to a dendrochronological test, it showed that it is the same wood used for the Paganini “Canon’ del Gesu violin, another famous violin that was made in the same year. The legend has it that both the Cannon and the Carrodus are owned by Paganini. But no proof has been found to justify the claim.
Today, the Carrodus is owned by the leader and artistic director of the Australian Chamber Orchestra, Richard Tognetti. The Carrodus has a value of $15,000,000. Tognetti described the violin as beautiful, deep and mysterious.
10. The Lady Blunt
Antonio Stradivari is the creator of Lady Blunt in the year 1721. The violin is named after the granddaughter of Lord Byron, a proprietor named Lady Anne Blunt.
Stradivarius has two best-preserved violins in existence and the Lady Blunt is one of them. With the history of being possessed by collectors for a long time, it has seen little play time despite existing for more than 3 centuries already. One of the rare performances of Lady Blunt happened in 1971 by Yehudi Menuhin during the Sotheby’s auction. That was indeed a rare opportunity to hear this popular historical instrument being played.
Circa 2008, a private collector sold the Lady Blunt to Japan’s Nippon Foundation. Then the foundation eventually decided to auction the violin again in 2011. The auction made a record because the Lady Blunt was sold for $15,900,000. Did you know that all proceeds went to benefit the victims of Japan’s tsunami and earthquake that happened that same year?