This Stradivarius Violin Helped Score Hollywood Classics. Now It Could Fetch $20 Million at Auction.
If you’re a lover of classic instruments, then this might be music to your ears: A 1714 Stradivarius, dubbed the “da Vinci, ex-Seidel” Strad, will be going up for auction next month.
The violin is part of Antonio Stradivari’s “golden period” of production, which spanned from 1710 to 1720. For nearly four decades in the 20th century, it belonged to the Russian musician Toscha Seidel, who used it during his long career in Hollywood.
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“It is our tremendous pleasure to present this instrument, whose exquisite voice still speaks to us through many classical recordings and film scores performed by the incomparable Toscha Seidel,” Carlos Tome, the director of the online auction house Tarisio, said in a statement. “We can only imagine the thrill that this instrument has generated for countless musicians and audiences over the centuries.”
According to Tarisio, the “da Vinci, ex-Seidel” violin is slightly more refined than other instruments from the same time period. Its edges and purfling are narrower and its corners are less blunted. Additionally, it features a gorgeous one-piece maple back, although Stradivari was known for making more two-piece backs during the 1710s.
Seidel bought this specific violin in the 1920s for $25,000, which would be more than $400,000 today. The sale was front-page news, with Seidel telling The New York Times, “We precisely suit each other, and I am convinced it is one of the finest examples of the famous violin maker.” The violinist would go on to play the Strad during countless performances, most notably in the film scores for The Wizard of Oz and Intermezzo.
The violin last sold at auction in 1974, when it went for more than $3 million in today’s dollars. It is currently owned by Tokuji Munetsugu, a Japanese businessman who collects rare string instruments.
While no price has been publicly listed for the violin, Tome told the Times that he expects it go for somewhere in the $15 million to $20 million range. If it falls somewhere between those numbers, it could break the current auction record for a Stradivarius, which belongs to the “Lady Blunt,” a violin that sold for $15.9 million in 2011.
Unlike that instrument, which was hardly ever played, the “da Vinci, ex-Seidel” helped create the sound of Hollywood. This behind-the-scenes film star will certainly be an auction star as well.
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