A stunning Stradivari viola dubbed “the finest in existence” is expected to become the most expensive instrument in history and sell for a record breaking £27 MILLION.
Antonio Stradivari is regarded as one of the greatest ever names in the musical instrument world.
And ‘The Macdonald’ is one of just ten Stradivari violas in existence and the first one to be offered on the open market for 50 years.
The 1719 piece is one of just two violas made during Stradivari’s ‘Golden Period’ of 1700 – 1720 when he made his finest instruments.
It takes its name from Godfrey Bosville, the 3rd Baron Macdonald, who bought it in the 1820s.
The Macdonald viola, which is slightly larger than a violin, will be sold by Sotheby’s and Ingles & Hayday this summer in a sealed auction.
Bids are expected to be in excess of $40 million (£27 million), which will make the viola the most expensive musical instrument in history.
It would be THREE TIMES the current record, which was for the £9.3 million Lady Blunt Stradi which was sold in 2011 to raise money for victims of the Japanese tsunami.
Tim Ingles, director of Ingles & Hayday, said: “The finest of all Stradivari violas is generally agreed to be the ‘Macdonald’ of 1719. It is immaculately preserved.
“No Stradivari viola has been on the market for the last fifty years so this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Antonio Stradivari was an Italian luthier who lived from 1644 until 1737. It is thought just 600 of his violins, 50 cellos and ten violas remain in existence.
For the past 200 years, collectors have strived to get a Stradivari ‘quartet’ – two of his violins, a cello and viola.
But this has become an almost impossible task because of the number of violas – with The Macdonald one of only two in private hands.
As a result there is expected to be global interest in the viola when it is sold this Spring.
Sothebys and Ingles & Hayday yesterday described The Macdonald as being of “incomparable quality” and the sale an “historic event”.
The front is of alpine spruce while the back is of a single piece of maple.
Its almost complete coating of Stradivari’s famous varnish has remained in a remarkably pure and undamaged state, according to the auctioneers.
The consistent rippling flame of the maple slopes downward from left to right, providing a beautiful shifting pattern beneath the varnish.
It was last purchased for Austrian-Brit Peter Schidlof of the Amadeus Quartet in 1964 and is being offered for sale by the family of the late musician, who died in 1987.
David Redden, Sotheby’s vice chairman, added: “Every field is defined by one outstanding masterpiece which casts its shadow not only on its own domain but far beyond.
“The instruments of Stradivari are in a class of their own among the pinnacles of human craftsmanship and the ‘Macdonald’ Viola stands at the unquestioned summit.”