Stradivarius Violin

Top-tier violins, such as the Stradivarius Violin increase between 8 and 12 per cent in value each year | Source: BBC

Stradivarius Violins: Legendary String Instruments A High Note of Investment

Violins made by Antonio Stradivari at the turn of the 18th century remain some of the most valuable and expensive instruments in the world. 

The 300-year-old instrument is revered by many as some of the greatest violins ever made. And Italian composer, Stradivari, is polarised as the greatest luthier to ever live.

The ‘Messiah’ Stradivarius violin is valued at around A$28 million and remains on display in England’s Ashmolean Museum in Oxford. But what makes these eccentric instruments so valuable and what drives demand from investors, professional musicians, and instrument collectors around the world?

Messiah Stradivarius was bequeathed to Ashmolean Museum on the condition that it never be played again | Source: BBC

Stradivarius violins are a limited asset, with only around 650 of the acclaimed instruments believed to still exist. In the past 30 years alone, sales from these fine string instruments have continued to break vending records.

The ‘Lady Blunt’ Stradivarius violin, crafted in 1721 sold at Sotheby’s in 1971 for a then-record amount of A$156,178. Fortey years later in 2011, the same violin was sold for A$22.3 million, again setting a new world record.

On average, experts predict these top-tier violins will increase in value between 8 and 12 per cent each year.

Kerry Keane, Head of Christie’s Musical Instruments Department believes such items are a safe long-term investment for art collectors and dealers around the world.

Fine violins like the Stradivarius have a historic record of being a brilliant (investment) for offsetting inflation, since it’s a tangible asset, and thus a great way to pass wealth on to the next generation.

Kerry Keane said.

According to the Stradivari Society, rare violins which have sold for extravagant profits in the past have never decreased in value and have even outperformed sectors in the precious metals and other popular investments commodities, such as art and watches.

lady blunt stradivarius
The iconic Lady Blunt Stradivarius was refurbished almost 40 years ago in Carl Becker and Son’s Chicago studio | Source: Benning Violins

The most premium Stradivarius purchases are violins made during Antonio Stradivari’s ‘Golden period,’ (between 1700 to the 1720s) when the Italian luthier composed some of his best work.

Other value-driving factors include the instruments’ ownership to prominent historical figures. The ‘Molitor’ Stradivarius, believed to be owned by Napoleon Bonaparte sold in London for A$388,000 in 1988. In 2010, the same violin was up for sale yet again, this time fetching for an eye-watering A$5 million via Tarisio Auctions. On a predicted 10 per cent per year increase, the violin should now be worth more than three times its initial value.

A Stradivarius possesses a mystical allure in the musical society – a musical prowess that can’t be compared to its modern-day equivalents.

To compare a contemporary maker’s work to a violin that is hundreds of years old is inherently unfair. What happens to that violin after being played for 300 years is a wonderful mystical mystery.

Kerry Keane said.

Many musicians attest to a mystic of picking up one of the revered violins for the first time. American classical violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn whose grandfather purchased the legendary 1720 ‘Red Mendelssohn’ Stradivarius for over A$2.3 million at a Christie’s auction in 1990, is said to have entered an “altered state” when she tested the violin pre-auction. Today the violin that inspired the 1998 movie The Red Violin is believed to be worth over A$20 million.

Elizabeth Pitcairn with the 1720 ‘Red Mendelssohn’ Stradivari violin
Elizabeth Pitcairn with the 1720 ‘Red Mendelssohn’ Stradivari violin | Source: Kawarthanow

Rare Stradivarius violins are the benchmark of profitability, an asset that only appreciates in both value and reputation. While hard to obtain, they are an investment in both musical and monetary immortality.

In 1908, the most eminent of London’s violin dealers, Arthur F. Hill reportedly wrote, “A Stradivarius cannot be regarded as other than a wise purchase,” It’s likely that statement has never been truer than in today’s market.

If you’re interested in reading more about other growing investment markets, have a look at the classic used car boom, the history of the iconic Nike Air Jordans and the best luxury timepieces to invest in.

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