'Lady Blunt' Stradivarius sold for record £8.75 million ($14.17 million)

June 20, 2011 at 08:10 PM ·

 The Lady Blunt Stradivarius has sold today (June 20) in London for a record £8.75 million ($14.17 million).  The violin was put up for sale by the Nippon Foundation of Japan, and all proceeds will go to The Nippon Foundation's Northeastern Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. The sale was made through Tarisio Auctions.

For more about the Lady Blunt: http://tarisio.com/wp/2011/04/the-lady-blunt-stradivarius-of-1721/

A video about the Lady Blunt: http://tarisio.com/hp_video/blunt_vid1.php

About the sale: http://tarisio.com/pages/auction/auction_item.php?csid=2197569536&cpid=2544336896

Replies (23)

June 20, 2011 at 08:50 PM ·

A wonderful thing for the Nippon Foundation and their efforts to help their fellow citizens. Something tells me this record's going to stand for a little while....

Of course, the question on everyone's mind is: who was the buyer???


June 20, 2011 at 09:19 PM ·

After the opening bid of £6 000 000, only two bidders...


June 20, 2011 at 10:11 PM ·

Holy crapolla, I knew it would go for a lot!

June 20, 2011 at 11:29 PM ·

Michael: Of course, the question on everyone's mind is: who was the buyer???

and the very next: - who (if anyone) will get to play it?

June 20, 2011 at 11:40 PM ·

I would have expected more in a healthy world economy. It's a darned nice fiddle.

Elise, one of the reasons it's so nice is that it hasn't been played much.  How would you incorporate that into future plans?

June 21, 2011 at 05:31 AM ·

June 21, 2011 at 11:19 AM ·

Thats a bit odd:  BBC news reports the sale price as L9.8 million:



June 21, 2011 at 12:22 PM ·

The 8.75 million is the hammer price, but the actual sale price includes the buyer's premium, which brings it up another million (yikes). However, the entire amount (9.8 mil) is going to Nippon Foundation; Tarisio is not keeping the premiums from the sale.

June 21, 2011 at 12:50 PM ·

I wanted to bid - but they steadfastly refuse to accept Monoploly money! I actually got a chance to see and hold it when it was in NY, and when I have a chance, I hope to write about this in more detail in my blog.

June 21, 2011 at 01:52 PM ·

Raphael: You have ~$16,000,000 in monopoly money?  Hmmmm... I'm not playing against you...

Oh, and thanks for the explanation on the bidding costs Michael...

June 21, 2011 at 03:07 PM ·

If only Stradivari had gotten the "ff" holes symmetrically lined up the price would have shotten up still higher IMHO.

June 21, 2011 at 03:23 PM ·

but then it wouldn't it look like just any old common Stradivarious violins - I mean who could then tell it from one of the superior czechoslovakian models?

June 21, 2011 at 03:52 PM ·

Bill, the neck is original, but pieces have been added to the heel end to lengthen it and reposition it (bring it to modern specs), and the neck has been reshaped. You can see where the heel was cut back far enough to expose the holes from the nails used to originally attach the neck, or the staining left by these nails.

June 21, 2011 at 04:51 PM ·

So THATS how its done - always wondered how they extended the neck of the baroque violins without using a guilotine, as it were :)

June 22, 2011 at 01:50 AM ·

Elise - OK, I did a lot of photo-copying. So now I have a lot of fake fake money. Anybody have something nice to sell me? ;-)

BTW. this is from the Tarisio site. Can anybody translate it into plain English?

* The 'Lady Blunt' is temporarily held in the UK under a USA carnet and will not be released into free circulation in the UK or any other EU country. It will be returned to the US and the carnet will be cancelled before title will pass. The buyer agrees to accept delivery in the US and assumes responsibility for any VAT or any other customs duties or taxes that may be payable upon re-import into the EU or for any import taxes or customs duties that may be payable upon import to any other jurisdiction. The 'Lady Blunt' will be invoiced under the "Auctioneer's Scheme" and the transaction will be zero-rated for UK VAT


June 22, 2011 at 04:25 AM ·

 This is what a carnet is.

Strange indeed are the dodges and wheezes whereby VATon a UK auction sale can be down-rated, deferred, or an item exempted altogether. The USA Inland Revenue Service, presumably, is set to collect, big-time.

June 22, 2011 at 10:18 AM ·

June 22, 2011 at 11:23 AM ·

Hmmm...curiouser and curiouser...

But what is a VAT and what is a carnet?

June 22, 2011 at 11:29 AM ·

June 22, 2011 at 06:32 PM ·

Hmmm...so no kind hearts and carnets! ;-D

June 23, 2011 at 05:32 AM ·

I was surprised to read that the USA does not tax transactions, as Europe does with VAT.

Is that why the sale of the Lady Blunt has been routed via the USA ? Surely the Nippon Foundation cannot be an All-American institution ? All very intriguing.

Over here, it's often like "bait and switch" - you think you have been quoted an inclusive price, you decide you can resist no longer, then WHOOPS, the vendor slaps on another 20% !!

June 23, 2011 at 11:51 AM ·

OK, back to being more serious - I'm still not sure I understand all of the ramifications for this sale, but one thing I know is this: with Tarisio, and Christie's too as I recall, when you're the successful bidder, between New York State taxes and the auction house fee, you can expect to pay about 20% above the hammer price to take possesion of your new acquisiton. So, I wonder if the successful bidder would have had to pay more had the sale been in NY?

June 25, 2011 at 02:01 AM ·

If the sale had  been held in New York, the winner would have to pay sales tax on the sale if they were in New York to pick up the violin and they did not have a valid sales tax exemption certificate (usually possessed by businesses and nonprofit organizations). If another foundation was the purchaser, for instance, they wouldn't have to pay sales tax because of their nonprofit status.

In the case of the buyer's premium, Tarisio donated it to the effort. The entire proceeds of the sale went to the Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

As for why the carnet exists and the sale being finalized in the US, that probably had to do with the fact that Tarisio's "home office" is in New York. But it is true that there is no VAT in the States, so it would one less hurdle for the sale.

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