a $16,000,000 guarneri(?) violin on ebay...is this for real?

August 25, 2011 at 05:40 PM ·

a $16,000,000 "buy-it-now/best offer" guarneri(?) violin on ebay ...is this for real?


Replies (33)

August 25, 2011 at 05:50 PM ·

Hi Tammuz,

I cannot say for myself it is authentic, but I know the guys are Maestronet gossip about John Thorton a lot and his practices. It's worth checking out, but then again I have never heard of them ever agreeing on something as being authentic, and they seem be pessimistic with eBay, which may not be a bad thing given there are so many frauds out there. Then again, I am also quite pessimistic about it's authenticity, and it's a little too hard to believe someone would put a Guarneri on eBay..

Hope that helps,


August 25, 2011 at 06:59 PM ·

I would be very surprised if this is an authentic Guarneri.  I cannot get in to see the details, but unless there is certificate from a reputable expert, this is most certainly not authentic (and even with a certificate, I would have some concerns).

August 25, 2011 at 07:13 PM ·

In a word... no.

August 25, 2011 at 07:21 PM ·

Same answer as to the question, "Is this a real Stradivari I found in Grandma's attic?"

...Nope. :)

August 25, 2011 at 07:29 PM ·

Go on, send him the 16 million, and decide for yourself.

I bet you could get it for less, if you tried.

August 25, 2011 at 07:47 PM ·

Mr John Thornston has been banned from this site as well as from Maestronet forum since 2006. Not because of some gossip but because of the same thing he is trying to do here: passing of fake instruments and bows for the real thing.

August 25, 2011 at 08:06 PM ·

I think he is back on Maestronet under an alias

August 25, 2011 at 10:35 PM ·

Just to note, I believe Mr.Thorton was banned from this forum. I read it on one of the threads while sifting through a few this morning. Oh Hendrik you already said it, my apologies. :P



August 25, 2011 at 10:51 PM ·

does ebay do any checks at this price range? no red flagging at all?

if experts here are convinced this is not authentic, why not contact ebay?

there have already been 7 turned down offers...i dont know if they offered $16 or $1,600,000 but i'd hate to think of anyone being duped into this....if this is indeed a fake.

but 16,000,000 on ebay? i wouldnt have imagined it possible

August 25, 2011 at 10:58 PM ·

 I have $16, but I promise to take good care of it. :)

August 25, 2011 at 11:05 PM ·

Aaron Rosand sold his extremely fine del Gesu for a lot less. Offer him ten mil and you can check it out for yourself.

August 25, 2011 at 11:11 PM ·

Since a large part of the financial value of expensive violins has to do with their standing in the rarities, antiques and collectibles market, I would want several opinions from the ringleaders in that market before spending major money. That is aside from everything which has been said so far.

August 25, 2011 at 11:17 PM ·

The most interesting part of this isn't the fiddle, but the return policy, which demands a 1% restocking fee. So if you don't like the "Guarneri," or it sounds like crap, you can return it. For the measly sum of $16,000!


August 26, 2011 at 12:19 AM ·

Scott, good catch, but the restocking fee is 10x that amount if the buyer paid the asking price!  I guess if someone is rich and careless enough to make the purchase via eBay sight unseen, s/he probably doesn't care about losing $160K. :)

August 26, 2011 at 03:27 AM ·

Tricks like this scare me away from eBay. I like looking at the violins on there from time to time but such deceit makes me nauseous..


August 26, 2011 at 03:40 AM ·

Of course its real.  And so is mine - the luthier that made it told me so :)

But for a bargain price of $CA15,000,000 I might part with it.

August 26, 2011 at 06:49 AM ·

 Oop, did I forget a 0?

I'm not sure that it's really "deceit."

Let's face it: anyone who is going to spend even 5 figures on a decent instrument is unlikely to buy something sight-unseen and will demand an air-tight refund policy. This dealer knows that no one is going to hit the "buy now" button. Whoever is remotely interested in this instrument will there in person with a microscope. This must be a personal transaction and he knows it. No one has a $16,000,000 credit limit. No one will put a check for that amount in the mail. Who knows what the real story is?

August 26, 2011 at 08:48 AM ·

Crikey, think of the ebay/paypal fees !  I sold a modestly priced violin on ebay and couldn't believe the charges...

August 26, 2011 at 09:03 AM ·

Interested parties should first equip themselves with a BARGE POLE. I found this website for UK readers.

Edit:- In England we say "Don't touch it with a barge pole". Self-explanatory, really !

Thanks, Elise.

August 26, 2011 at 10:22 AM ·

[David  I'm not sure if that particular idiom is used outside England;  here I think its just a 'ten foot pole' - but its obviously the same origin.  Probably because I don't think barge poles were every widely used on this side of the puddle ;) ]

August 26, 2011 at 11:15 AM ·

I believe there has been a clerical error somewhere along the line and that the $16M dollars are actually Liberian dollars, which convert to a USD value of about $224K.

August 26, 2011 at 05:43 PM ·

The worst part about this is that there have been and continue to be good solid instruments available on eBay from time to time. It's like looking through Craigslist, though: you have to sift through a lot of junk and become very jaded before finding something that actually works.

The best example I can think of came from a shop I worked for many years back, when eBay was still relatively new. A violin came into the shop for consignment from someone who'd been a long-time loyal customer for repairs, and wanted to use the shop he knew and trusted to help sell his instrument. However, it was far above the price range the shop normally sold, and the shop owner wasn't sure we could give the violin'sowner the marketing reach that the fiddle merited. It was a violin by Giuseppe Rocca, in excellent condition and with fine provenance, including certificates from several reputable sources.

 So another young worker at the shop and I came up with the idea of advertising the violin by putting it on eBay, showing pictures of the certificates and the instrument, and simply asking interested parties to contact the shop directly, with a starting bid of the asking price. The word got out to many people very quickly, and there ended up being a buyer from another state who came in to see it and, after some negotiations, purchased it. That buyer would never have known the violin was available without the eBay listing.

 What the listing in question here demonstrates is the flip side of that story. Unfortunately, that's become the case with a lot of listings on eBay, and of course eBay has no qualms about accepting listing fees for astronomical prices on items that have no business being listed that way.

August 26, 2011 at 06:53 PM ·

 eBay has no qualms about accepting listing fees for astronomical prices on items that have no business being listed that way.

Why does this violin have no business being listed this way? Who's to decide? Where's the cutoff?

No one's being forced to buy anything. When any big shop or auction house sells a Guarneri, do they make any less than ebay? There's a reason the guy from a big Chicago shop drives a Ferrari...

August 26, 2011 at 07:10 PM ·

Trevor, if it's Liberian dollars, this baby's mine! You see, a couple of people in Liberia have asked me via email to help them get money that rightfully belongs to me out of Liberia!  I'll just have them send those dollars of mine straight to Ebay, they ship me the Guarneri, which I'm sure is gorgeous if they're asking that much for it, and everybody's happy, no?

August 26, 2011 at 07:11 PM ·

You'd have to follow this guys online activity to understand the humor...I believe he is in Alabama...he tracks down these FANTASTIC violins...cleans them and VOILA!  They're Guarneri's and Stradivari!  And trust me, he honestly believes these are the real deal and will defend his listings to his last breath and will also harass you via email or follow you around online if you say anything negative :-)

About the restocking fee...TE HE...I guess it is rather time consuming and tiresome to place the violin back into the garage...

August 26, 2011 at 07:17 PM ·

 If I pay with PayPal, will he or I pay the fee then?

August 26, 2011 at 07:35 PM ·

LOL, you!

August 26, 2011 at 08:08 PM ·

Matthias, according to Paypal's User Agreement:

8.1.a "For Purchase Payments, the recipient of the payment will always pay the Fee."

Also, 4.2.d "Sellers may not charge a surcharge for accepting PayPal as a payment method."

August 27, 2011 at 05:23 AM ·

Double post...

August 27, 2011 at 05:24 AM ·

 Thank you! It would have been ridiculousy expensive if I would have been expected to pay the fee as well.

August 27, 2011 at 06:10 AM ·


You mean you are down to your last $16,000,000?


August 27, 2011 at 03:19 PM ·

Yeah, my wife don't like if I spend too much at once...

August 27, 2011 at 03:24 PM ·

Well, here's your answer - go and by a new $100,000 del Gesu luthier copy and then take her out to celebrate because you just saved $15,900,000 AND got a far better violin!

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