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OMG! World’s costliest violin is back in play

Some dozen years ago, a London plutocrat who had studied at the Royal College of Music invited me to his bedroom. He shut the door behind us. Bending low, he reached under the bed and extracted a violin case, which he reverentially opened.

‘Know what this is?’ he demanded. I could see what was coming.

‘It’s the Vieuxtemps Guarnerius del Jesu.’

I knew enough about the fiddle trade to appreciate the name drop. The Vieuxtemps, built in 1741, took its name from the great 19th century Belgian virtuoso. It was later played by Yehudi Menuhin and Itzhak Perlman. For the past 50 years or so, it has been privately – silently – owned in London, kept mostly under a bed.

Three years ago it was put up for sale at an asking price of $18 million. That was about twice as much as has ever been paid for a pedigree violin. It failed, as they say, to find an early buyer.

Now, however, the London firm of J&A Beares have sold it for an undisclosed – though, they say, world record – amount. The previous top was the ‘Lady Blunt’ Strad, sold in 2011 for $14.2 million (plus auction commission).

The new owner wants it to be played. he has chosen as artist to bring it back into play for the rest of her life.

She is Anne Akiko Meyers. Here is her first public performance 0n the instrument last month, unreleased until tonight.

You read – and heard – it here first.



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  1. Doesn’t the concertmaster of the San Fransisco Symphony play on Heifetz’s Guarnerius?

    • The Oracle says:

      Yes, as long as he/she has the job, by terms of his will. The Tononi in which he made his Carnegie Hall debut belongs to violinist Sherry Kloss his last assistant and a pupil. She was also given a choice of his best bows.

  2. It’s sad that so many extraordinary instruments are in Museums. They should be played.

  3. tech doping! ah what a day

  4. scott smith says:

    I think Ms. Meyers meant that the Vieuxtemps will be touring the world while the violins that are controlled by museums are restricted. According to the New York Times, Heifetz’s violin can not leave San Francisco.

    “Mr. Barantschik cannot take it out of San Francisco, even on orchestra tours. Every summer, the David will return to the museum for eight weeks, leaving Mr. Barantschik with his own instrument, a Giovanni Grancino, built around 1700.”

    In any event, very exciting news. The violin sound on the video above sounds amazing in Ms. Meyers hands.

  5. I’m starting to think this is all a publicity stunt by Anne Meyers. I was told by a reliable source that she has a rich funder who purchased the instrument for her when she got the Molitor Stradivarius. And now this Guarneri del Gesu too ?? If I was a private collector, Anne Meyers would NOT be the first artist that comes to my mind…

    • thekingontheviolin says:

      I did not dare to start this line of thought but V whoever you are I LOVE YOU ………

  6. Many thanks. Great.
    A great violin does not make a great violinist—it is only an instrument whose beauty comes to life only in the hands of the player.
    Price is not the sole consideration–would it be true to assume that a violin of Stg 1 million would be as good as that of 10 million?
    I am only a self-taught amateur who plays all sorts of music for fun.
    Hope to hear from the experts.

    Long life music!

  7. Did anyone else get a tad nervous watching her swing it around as she was taking her bows? Ah, nothing to worry about…. I guess…

  8. an argument in its own right but see below about a test that was done in Idianapolis. Professional musicians could not tell the difference. The implication of course is that the perceived difference to modern instruments is vastly psychological.

  9. I thought the Mendelsohn Strad went for more than that in private sale years ago? I do love seeing these great violins played!!! :)

  10. All this time I thought it was Heifetz’ genius — it was his fiddle!

    Awesome sound and wonderful talkent to be custodian of this great instrument.

  11. why is she talking over the performance? I’d rather hear the violin. We can read that other stuff later, of have a separate video for it.

  12. I think that it’s terrible to keep a Strad or Guarneri where it can’t be played. The issue is esthetic, not financial. A violin needs to be played to maintain its warmth, responsiveness, and quality of sound.

    I like what Ms. Meyers saId about the rich tone and the projection of the G string. I heard it, andI love it.

  13. Who is the brave luthier for this instrument? And how will new generations of experts be trained to keep the instrument in top condition. Wonder how their insurance covers their liability when its in the shop.

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