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Rare Stradivarius sells for near-record USD15.3 million

NEW YORK (AFP) – A rare Stradivarius violin that belonged to a Russian-American virtuoso and was used in the Wizard of Oz soundtrack sold at auction in New York on Thursday for USD15.3 million, just below the record for such an instrument, according to the auction house, Tarisio.

The violin, made in 1714 by master craftsman Antonio Stradivari, belonged to virtuoso Toscha Seidel, who not only used it on the score for the 1939 Hollywood classic, but also no doubt while teaching his famous student Albert Einstein.

“This violin has been set side by side with the great mathematician scientist as they played quartets in Albert’s home in Princeton, New Jersey,” said founder of Tarisio Jason Price, which specialises in stringed instruments.

Seidel, who immigrated to the United States (US) in the 1930s, and Einstein, who fled the Nazi regime in Europe, participated in a New York concert in 1933 in support of fleeing German Jewish scientists.

Of the thousands of instruments made by Stradivari, there are still around 600 known today, he said.

“Of those, many are in museums, many are in foundations and are in situations where they won’t be sold,” Price said.

“There’s a select few which are known as the Golden Period examples, which is approximately between 1710 and 1720,” he said. “And these, for the most part, are those which are the most desired and the most highly valued.”

The violin had previously belonged to the Munetsugu collection in Japan.

Tarisio did not reveal who the buyer was.

The violin was sold for USD15.3 million at an auction in New York. PHOTO: KYODO