New York: A rare Stradivarius violin once owned by a Russian-American virtuoso and used in the ‘Wizard of Oz’ soundtrack sold at auction in New York on Thursday for $15.3 million, just below the record for such a instrument, according to the Tarisio auction house.
The violin, made in 1714 by master craftsman Antonio Stradivari, belonged to the virtuoso Toscha Seidel, who used it not only on the score of the 1939 Hollywood classic, but also no doubt while teaching his famous pupil Albert Einstein. .
“This violin rubbed shoulders with the great mathematician scientist as they played quartets at Albert’s house in Princeton, New Jersey,” said Jason Price, founder of string instrument maker Tarisio.
Seidel, who immigrated to the United States in the 1930s, and Einstein, who fled the Nazi regime in Europe, took part in a concert in New York in 1933 to support escaped German Jewish scientists.
Of the thousands of instruments made by Stradivari, about 600 remain known today.
“Of those, many are in museums, many are in foundations and are in situations where they won’t be sold,” Price said.
“There are a few that are known as examples from the golden period, which is roughly between 1710 and 1720,” he said.
“And these, for the most part, are the ones most desired and valued.”
The violin previously belonged to the Munetsugu collection in Japan. Tarisio did not reveal who the buyer was.
The record for a Stradivarius at auction was set in 2011, when a violin dubbed “Lady Blunt”, believed to have belonged to Lady Anne Blunt, granddaughter of poet Lord Byron, sold for $15.9 in London.
In 2014, another Stradivarius with a hammer price set at a minimum of $45 million failed to sell.