Machold goes under

May 14, 2012 at 11:02 PM · International string instrument dealer Dietmar Machold has problems.

This is an article about the demise of one of the most well known string instrument dealers.

Replies (28)

May 15, 2012 at 02:46 AM · If he would instead deal in good Chinese and eastern European instruments instead of outrageously priced 17th and 18th century Italian violins, he could make a very good living with his skill and knowledge.

May 15, 2012 at 03:24 AM · I don't think you read the article.

May 15, 2012 at 11:21 AM · 11th. Commandment:- "Thou shalt not be found out".

PS I read the article and wonder where I can buy a realistic fake yellow Rolls-Royce within my meagre price-range.

May 15, 2012 at 03:49 PM · "Is it about time for players to put their foot down and refuse to pay above a set limit ?"

that'll work

May 15, 2012 at 04:28 PM · "It`s time to have a boycott."

Yep. I refuse to buy any more Strads.

May 15, 2012 at 05:23 PM · If, as many on this forum insist, Strads and Guarneris are played-out, overrated, and easily bested by any number of modern instruments, then what does it matter if a Strad costs 2 million or 12 million? It's really only the wealthy investor's problem, and only if prices start a long-term decline, which they won't. I'd be willing to bet a large number of Strad-playing soloists these days don't actually own their instruments but have them on long-term lone. Meaning free.

May 15, 2012 at 06:50 PM · . . . what does it matter if a Strad costs 2 million or 12 million? It's really only the wealthy investor's problem . . .

That is what it's come to. I wonder what percentage of sales in the last 10 years have been to players versus investors. Small and continually shrinking would be my guess. A couple of generations ago players could afford a lot of these instruments, but no more.

The article doesn't talk about the people who had instruments on consignment with Machold. Did he take care to only rip off banks, or did families lose money trying to sell Grandfather's old Guarneri?

May 15, 2012 at 07:28 PM · Who thinks that this is the last time we'll see a story such as this about violin dealers.

My teacher/friend/mentor insists that Strads etc. are truly great but when he plays a cheap fiddle and makes it sound like a million dollars I just laugh. I am sure he is right an I am sure it only makes a great fiddler a greater fiddler.

May 15, 2012 at 08:09 PM · The concertmaster of my first professional orchestra played a Girolamo Amati II that had cost him £2k, roughly a year's salary.

What can an orchestral player buy nowadays for a year's wage ? You'd need to be on first desk to afford a Gagliano !!

May 15, 2012 at 11:19 PM · his wife... it must have been love...

May 15, 2012 at 11:34 PM · Makes me wonder why of all instruments it seems as though only violins have achieved the status of works of art? Are there any gazillion dollar brasses or tympani out there? I guess there a few famous guitars I suppose, but it seems only because of who played them not because of what they are or who made them. How about lutes? Didn't Stradivarius make any lutes that are worth millions and millions and if he did where are they? As for Mr. Machold, seems like he is just an old fashioned crook. Maybe he could bunk with Mr. Madoff and they could trade war stories with one another. What did W.C Fields say? "Never give a sucker an even break!"

May 16, 2012 at 12:58 PM · The point of this article was specifically about Machold. They've been after him fir some time now. He is one of the most notorious of horse traders in a field not exactly devoid of horse traders.

May 16, 2012 at 01:44 PM · There are honest violin dealers that have my professional respect and trust. There are dishonest people everywhere (bankers anyone?) but don't tar all violin dealers with the same brush.

Cheers Carlo

May 16, 2012 at 02:49 PM · 'Many instruments have disappeared...' states the article. Where to, I wonder? Strads specifically, or others, perhaps? Will they begin to turn up in dusty attics all over again in the near future or will they become secret underworld collectables, never to be seen?. Oooh the possibilities!

Machold must have enjoyed the challenge of playing bankers and customers for fools, he did it for such a long time. It just goes to show its who you know, not just what you know, that gives you the edge. For any lowlier a person, simply borrowing 100k to buy a decent violin would erupt a paper trail thick enough to stranglehold your house, land and family for generations, missing just one interest repayment would cause cardiac forfeiture of it all. And to think Machold just went to each bank and waved a couple of self appraised 'cheapies' around on a promise to get a several million euro is just mind boggling. There wouldn't be a rock big enough on the entire earth for all involved to crawl under. Blimey!

May 16, 2012 at 08:46 PM · Oh, but Millie, these guys all crawled out from under rocks to start with!

May 16, 2012 at 10:22 PM · Millie, Thank you for your witty and thought-provoking comment.

May 17, 2012 at 01:03 AM · Lisa said above "... A couple of generations ago players could afford a lot of these instruments, but no more."

I can attest to that. When I was a schoolboy in Bristol in the '50s I passed by a violin shop each day on my way home from school. The shop is still there, doing a thriving business - but it's now called Cremona House. Over a period of several weeks one summer there was an Amati cello on display in the window (nobody would dare do that today!). I don't know which variety of Amati it was, but the price on the label was £400. In the '50s that instrument would have been within the reach of a professional cellist, or an amateur in middle management or one of the professions. All I could do was to drool.

May 17, 2012 at 02:21 AM · No, all violin dealers should not be tarred wuth the same brush - they should VARNISHED with a brush! ;-D

Oh wait, that's violins, themselves that should be varnished with a brush. OK, back to tar for the dealers! Just kidding. Yes, there are honorable violin dealers.

May 17, 2012 at 05:25 AM · Playing bankers for fools isn't such a big thing. I would be more impressed if they were professional violinists.

Bankers are gamblers in a manner; the money is not 'money', but a commodity to be used to generate wealth. Everything has a price, and perceived value is in the price, not in the form or function.

That means they were overlooking the primary characteristics, and easy to fool.

May 17, 2012 at 08:21 AM · As long as he only cheats on bankers I am ok with it. The question is wich ones grief was stronger. Macholds or the bankers.

May 17, 2012 at 01:52 PM · Machold cheated everybody, not just bankers. I've been following his story for a while from various sources. He's not alone as a really bad example, but I won't mention other names that I could. I don't want to get sued. With Machold, I'm merely paraphrasing the courts and the police.

May 18, 2012 at 07:56 AM · Dictators usually make people 'disappear', but not before they torture them to find out where their money pot is.

May 19, 2012 at 01:33 AM · We talk a lot about Strads, Amatis, Guarneris, etc... but in the real world it is hard for a musician affording a nice instrument today, even a contemporary one.

More here about this case:

May 19, 2012 at 01:57 AM · "Dictators usually make people 'disappear', but not before they torture them to find out where their money pot is"

I had to do dictation in aural skills. It was torture.

May 24, 2012 at 01:03 AM · Simon Streuff says:

As long as he only cheats on bankers I am ok with it.


That doesn't speak well for the state of your morals.

May 24, 2012 at 09:11 PM · From Lyndon Taylor

but it does speak to simons impression of the bankers morals


Precisely, which is ignorance.

There are approximately the same percentage of "evil violinists" and "good violinists" in the world as there are "evil bankers" and "good bankers" (or evil and good horticulturists and horse trainers for that matter).

It's just that bankers are a current favored soup du jour scapegoat, especially by those who possess absolutely zero financial knowledge and thus are easily led by the nose on such matters.

May 26, 2012 at 09:41 PM · Bankers provide a service without which the world as we know (and live in) it could not exist.

The services provided by violin dealers is not so critical.

Bankers and their clients have been taken to the cleaners time after time, based on speculative fevers. Chastising bankers because they may facilitate greed is an easy way to overlook the basic fact that they are responding to someone else's desires.

Financial bubbles will always occur. There is too much money to be made from fools to put a stop to basic human desires and actions. The question remains whether the current pricing of early violins is a bubble which will pop; while it's a centuries-long phenomenon, the limited supply along with the incresed population of the planet and its increasing wealth, might be enough to continue the process until they all turn to dust.

Fortunately for future generations (should they come to pass) there seems to be a number of talented modern makers whose instruments might command attention in years to come.

Also possible: musicians will fall into the level of disrepute that they occupied for so many centuries, perhaps not undeservedly; old fiddles will end up in museums, or burned by the right-thinking populace, righteously offended by the excesses of the frivolous.

May 26, 2012 at 11:32 PM · Bold of you to go on record, Lyndon. Personally, I am disinclined to opt for inclusion on anyone's list.

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