Magazine article Strings

June Auction Sales Bubbling from Below

Magazine article Strings

June Auction Sales Bubbling from Below

Article excerpt

In the shadow of the recent high-profile, eight-figure offerings of the "Macdonald" Stradivari viola and "Kreutzer" Stradivari violin, both of which failed to find buyers, several records were set at other auctions held in June.

In London, a wonderfully preserved 1759 Nicolô Gagliano set a new record for a violin at auction by that maker, becoming Tarisio's big seller at £191,450. The fiddle once was owned by the famed collector Gerald Segel* man and came with a strong provenance and list of certificates from W.E. Hill & Sons (1949) and Peter Biddulph (2014). Not coming in quite so strong was another Gagliano violin, which had been sufficiently altered to make a specific year attribution difficult, leaving the sellers to date it "mid-18th century, Naples." It had a later scroll that was larger than the compact spiral that helps identify this maker, signs of heavy usage on the violin's top, a neck-button repair, and lacked the paperwork and known history of the Segelman Gagliano.

Selling for £70,800, or about 37 percent of the value of the 1759 violin, the auction results demonstrate what a difference condition and provenance can make in the market value of instruments, even by the same maker. In all likelihood, the less expensive violin will be more of a player's instrument than a collector's item appreciating in a bank vault.

In an interesting view into the auction process, Tarisio offered up an 1830 Giovanni Pressenda with a higher estimate than the top-selling Gagliano, but it went unsold in the sale's first round and ended up in the "unsold lots," eventually bringing in £190,000 without a buyer's premium. …

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