Violins are delicate wooden musical instruments that have four strings made of steel, gut or nylon. Although electronic violins are available, wooden ones are preferred by most. Each violin is different – depending on its maker, the string, and the type of wood used. Violins from famous luthiers (a person who makes violins) are known for their amazing musical quality and can cost millions of dollars. However some violins have amazing stories behind them and are extremely rare, making them coveted by collector’s world over.
Here are the top 10 most expensive violins of the world in 2017 along with their prices.
List of the world’s top 10 most expensive Violins in 2017
10. The Titanic Violin – Price $1.7 million
This was the violin that was played by the bandleader, Wallace Hartley, as the famous ship, the Titanic sank. According to survivors of the deadly tragedy, Hartley’s band continued to play calmly even as people around them were panicking because the ship beneath them was sinking. The event was made iconic by James Cameron’s depiction in the classic blockbuster, “Titanic”. In 2013, the violin was bought by an anonymous buyer in an UK auction for $1.7 million.
9. The Lady Tennant Violin – Price $2 million
This antique violin was created in the year 1699 by famous Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari, who is universally recognized as the greatest violin maker of all time. The exquisitely designed violin has a golden brown varnish and a scroll of lighter medium curl. The violin has many famous players – including Charles Philippe Lafont, a famous nineteenth century violinist. The Lady Tennant owes its name to the wife of Sir Charles Clow Tennant, a Scottish businessman and owner of this famous instrument.
8. The Hammer Stradivarius – Price $3.5 million
Made in 1707, by Stradivari during his golden years, the Hammer Stradivarius is named after its first owner – Christian Hammer, a Swedish collector who lived during the 19th century. Since then the Hammer changed hands multiple times and traveled the world with its owners – from the United States to Japan until it was sold at a Christie’s auction in 2006 for a whopping $3.5 million. The Hammer has been loaned on occasion to violinists for performance in an orchestra.
7. The Molitor Stradivarius – Price $3.6 million
Another antique from the Italian master, the Molitor was created by Stradivari in 1697. This violin has a unique story and a long list of owners including Napoleon Bonaparte, Parisian art patron Juliette Recamier, and even the Red Cross Foundation. American violinist Anne Aiko Meyers bought the Molitor from the Tarisio Auctions in 2010, for $3.6 million a record breaking fee at the time. Meyers described the beautifully preserved instrument as “love at first sound”.
6. IL Cannone Guarnerius – Price $4 million
This violin is do deeply associated with once owner Niccolo Paganini, an Italian violin virtuoso, that the piece is often referred to as Il Cannone, ex-Paganini. When Paganini lost his costly Amati violin due to his bad habit of gambling, then he was gifted the Guarneri violin by an amateur violinist. So impressed by the powerful sound of the violin, Paganini vowed to play only that instrument for the rest of his life. The Cannone, as it came to be known today, belongs to the city of Genoa and is considered a national treasure in Italy.
5. The Lord Wilton – Price $6 million
Created by Italian luthier Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri in 1742, this violin has been named after the fourth Earl of Wilton, Seymour Egerton. The famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin played this famous instrument for nearly two decades and that is the reason some call the Wilton the ex-Yehudi Menuhin. The violin is currently owned by David Fulton, who bought the violin for $6 million in 1999 when Menuhin died.
4. The Mary Portman – Price $10 million
This Guarneri violin gets its name from English violinist Mary I. Portman who was the architect of the famous Kranzbach Castle. One of the greatest violinist of all time – Fritz Kreisler has played on this Guarneri violin from 1735. Adele Anthony and Susanne Hou, great violinists in their own right have also graced this instrument with their supreme talent. This nearly three hundred year old musical instrument is owned by the Arrisons family and is believed to be worth around $10 million.
3. Ex-Kochanski Guarneri – Price $10 million
This Guarneri violin has a fine deep red varnish that is coated with antiquated oil and maintains the instrument in an astounding state of preservation. One of the greatest creations of Guarneri, it was created during his last and arguably the best period of his life in between 1740-1744. Violinist Aaron Rosand tearfully sold this violin, his life partner for about fifty years, in 2009 for $10 million to a Russian billionaire. He described the experience as “leaving his body behind”.
2. Carrodus Guarneri – Price $10 million
Another creation from the genius Guarneri – the Carrodus would give competition to the Ex-Kochanski for the finest Guarneri violin ever made. Created in 1743, this violin seems to have special powers besides its musical quality because it survived a horrific car crash in 1955. This is a tragic incident which killed Ossy Renardy, then owner of the violin. It might be fascinating to know that the Carrodus has been created from the same tree as the Il Cannone.
1. The Lady Blunt – Price $16 million
Lady Anne Blunt, daughter of English mathematician Ada Lovelace, was one of the first owners of this classic violin and hence it has been named after her. Standing over all other Stradivari violins because of its nearly perfect original condition, the Lady Blunt was created in 1721. It hardly looks that old thanks to a series of highly responsible owners. The violin was sold in 2011 for nearly $16 million by Tarisio Auctions and the money went to charity for the benefit of Japanese earthquake and tsunami victims.
That was our list of the most expensive violins of all time. Known throughout the music universe and loved by all violin enthusiasts, these rare instruments are special because of how rare they are.