Analysis July 2022: Beyond priceless

Aguttes Guarneri cr Aguttes

Violins by Stradivari and Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ both came up for auction at the beginning of June. Records were expected to be broken – but what is the true value of these instruments? By Peter Somerford

The auctions in June of a golden-period Stradivari violin and a violin by Guarneri ‘del Gesù’ have put the spotlight once again on classical Cremonese instruments and their value. Bidding for the c.1714 ‘da Vinci, ex-Seidel’ Stradivari at Tarisio was set to start at $8m (£6.3m), with expectations that the violin could sell for upwards of $15m, possibly beating the $15.9m auction record held by the ‘Lady Blunt’ Stradivari. The 1736 ‘del Gesù’ being auctioned by French house Aguttes carried an estimate of €4m–€4.5m, with the firm suggesting €10m as a realistic outcome. But what does talk of auction records being broken mean in a world where these old instruments are so far beyond the buying power of players?…

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