The Price of Stradivarius Violins

Stradivarius instruments are holding the top-5 places when it comes to prices ever paid for any musical instruments, and the most expensive violins made by Stradivarius are those he crafted during his so-called golden period (1700 to 1725).

Stradivarius violins from that period are having opening bids at auctions of several millions of dollars. Here are a few examples:

  • Maxim Vengerov, the Russian violist, bought the 1727-crafted ‘Kreutzer’ violin for almost $1.6 million in 1998. Vengerov owns four Stradivarius violins in total.
  • Stradivarius’ 1720 Red Mendelssohn violin was sold in 1990 for $1.7 million. The unique instrument was bought by the grandfather of violinist Elizabeth Pitcairn who received it as a birthday present when she turned 16.
  • The 1699 Lady Tennant violin was sold at an April 2005 Christie’s auction for slightly over $2 million.  The instrument was bought by the Stradivari Society of Chicago to be played on loan by violinist Yang Liu, and later (in 2009) by Yossif Ivanov.
  • Stradivarius’ Soloman ex-Lambert (1729) was auctioned at Christie’s in 2007 for $2.7 million to an anonymous bidder.
  • Stradivarius’ 1707 ‘Hammer’ violin was sold at a Christie’s auction in 2006 for $3,544,000, a world record for any musical instrument at that time.
  • In 2010, a new record was set when at a Tarisio auction, concert violinist Anne Akiko Meyers acquired the 1697 ‘Molitor’ violin for $3.6 million. The Molitor is said to have been previously owned by Napoleon Bonaparte.
  • Stradivarius’ Lady Blunt violin was auctioned online by Tarisio in June 2011 for $15.9 million, more than 4 times the previous record  The proceeds went to the Nippon Foundation to help fund the relief efforts after the devastating Earthquake and Tsunami.
  • The 1731 ‘Kreutzer’ violin, listed at a 2014 auction at Christie’s for f $7.5 – $10 million, did not reach the reserve price at a sealed-bid auction.

So you see, a Stradivarius instrument is an emotional and financially secure investment that will only rise in value.

As far as we know, the earliest Stradivarius violin was crafted in 1666, when Antonio Stradivari was just 21 years old. Some people think that Antonio was trained by Nicolo Amati, Andrea Amati’s (1511-1577) grandson, but there are also people who that he was trained as a  woodworker, which would be an explanation of his genius talent in drafting and design drafting.

When he just started out, Stradivari was crafting violins in the classic style that had been in fashion for centuries and that Amati had taught him. Stradivari’s skill and talent was so impressive that even when he used traditional techniques in the beginning, his instruments were crafted in a unique way.

The Hellier violin, for example, made in 1679, is already revealing Stradivari’s unmatched ability to produce a violin in a better way than any of his fellow violin makers during his time.

In the early 1680’s, Stradivari started to design and craft full-bodied violins that had rich tonal and physical characteristics, and though he initially used the Amati basic structure to make a violin, it wasn’t long before he started to develop his own style of violin models.

His sons Francesco and Omobono later joined Stradivari business in 1698 but they never showed their father’s talent or fervor.

Stradivari managed to produce his best violins in the period 1700 – 1725. In that time frame, he perfected his instruments and created violins with a sound that’s unmatched til today. Stradivari redesigned his violins’ sound boxes, and he also introduced the wide corners and broad edges, the black edging, and the unique deep-red varnish.