The 1721 'Lady Blunt', one of the best-preserved Stradivari violins in existence, was sold yesterday in a Tarisio online auction for £9.8m ($15.9m). The figure, which includes the buyer's premium (the hammer price was £8,750,000), is over four times the previous auction record for a Stradivari violin. The buyer was an anonymous bidder who won a 90-minute bidding battle with one other bidder.

All the proceeds from the sale will go to the Nippon Foundation's Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. Kazuko Shiomi, president of the Nippon Music Foundation, which put the 'Lady Blunt', one of the treasures of its stringed instrument collection, up for sale, said: 'While this violin was very important to our collection, the needs of our fellow Japanese people after the March 11 tragedy have proven that we all need to help, in any way we can. The donation will be put to immediate use on the ground in Japan.'