A rare Stradivari viola set to be auctioned this spring by Sotheby’s is expected to fetch at least $45 million – making it the most expensive musical instrument ever sold.
The MacDonald Viola (which is slightly larger than a violin) was crafted by Italian artisan Antonio Stradivari (maker of the famed violins) in 1719. Only 10 of the violas are known to still exist today. In contrast, over 600 Stradivari violins still exist). The sale will mark the first time one of the famed violas has been put on the market in 50 years.
The Macdonald is widely considered the finest viola in the world. It is made of alpine spruce with a back crafted from a single piece of maple. The instrument is reportedly in perfect condition. It is called the Macdonald because it was purchased by Godfrey Bosville, the 3rd Baron Macdonald, in the 1800s.
The auction of the rare instrument will require a minimum bid of $45 million. All bids will be sealed, and the highest bidder announced on June 25.
Stradivari was born in Italy in 1644. Over his 70 year career he fashioned the finest violins and violas the world has ever seen (and heard).
Alex has written for Vanity Fair, Barrons, Bloomberg and Condé Nast Traveler.