1697 Molitor Stradivarius
Made at the very beginning of Stradivari’s so-called ‘golden period’, the Molitor is believed to be named after a general in Napoleon’s army, Count Gabriel Jean Joseph Molitor. At the time of its sale to Anne Akiko Meyers in 2010, it broke the world record for the sale of a musical instrument.
Current owner: Anne Akiko Meyers
Last sold for: $3.6 million in 2010
1727 Kreutzer Stradivarius
Named after previous owner Rodolphe Kreutzer – for whom Beethoven dedicated his Violin Sonata No. 9 – the Kreutzer Strad was designed in 1727 and is one of four Stradivarius violins with the name ‘Kreutzer’.
Current owner: Maxim Vengerov
Last sold for: $1.5 million in 1998
1714 Dolphin Stradivarius
The ‘Dolphin’ Strad is so called because of the striking appearance of its dolphin shape and shimmering colour on its back. It is currently owned by the Nippon Music Foundation in Japan, which owns a raft of Stradivari instruments.
Current owner: Nippon Music Foundation, on loan to Japanese violinist Akiko Suwanai
Last sold for: An unknown sum in 2000
1721 Lady Blunt Stradivarius
The Lady Blunt is believed to be one of the two best preserved Strads still in circulation, the other being the Messiah Stradivarius of 1716. Named after Lady Anne Blunt, granddaughter of Lord Byron, the violin has remained in such good condition as a result of having very rarely been played and has mostly stayed in the possession of collectors. Yehudi Menuhin is one of the few violinists to have ever played it, having been called on to demonstrate its quality when it was up for auction at Sotheby’s in 1971. It sold for £84,000 at the time but has skyrocketed in value, selling again in 2011 for £9.8 million, when the Nippon Music Foundation sold it to raise funds for victims of natural disasters in Japan.
Current owner: Unknown
Last sold for: £9.8 million in 2011
1715 Ex-Marsick Stradivarius
James Ehnes’s violin is often confused with the 1705 Marsick Stradivarius played – and adored – by David Oistrakh between 1966 and 1974. Both were played by the turn-of-the-20th-century Belgian virtuoso Martin Pierre Marsick. ‘I find that it pushes me every day to be a little bit more expressive and my technique a little bit cleaner,’ Ehnes told BBC Music Magazine. ‘But it’s not an instrument that particularly rewards any sort of antiseptic play. I mean, I think that it has in it all the depth of body and grit that one might look for.’
Current owner: Fulton Collection, on loan to James Ehnes
Last sold for: Unknown
1721 ‘Red Mendelssohn’ Stradivarius
The ‘Red Mendelssohn’ is said to have inspired the 1998 film The Red Violin, which tells the semi-fictional story of a violin made in Cremona in the 17th century and follows its various owners along the way. The real violin was linked to Felix Mendelssohn’s family. The heir of a wealthy American industrial family acquired the violin in 1990, before passing it down to his then 16-year-old granddaughter Elizabeth Pitcairn, who still owns it today.
Current owner: Elizabeth Pitcairn
Last sold for: $1.7 million in 1990
1734 ‘Hercules’ Stradivarius
Belgian violinist Eugène Ysaÿe was spoilt for choice with both a Guarneri and a Strad to his name. Preferring the Guarneri for performances, he would often leave the Strad in its case while on stage. As a result, his ‘Hercules’ was stolen in 1908 from the Imperial Theatre in St Petersburg. It was rediscovered years later at a Parisian dealer’s shop. In 1972, Henryk Szeryng gifted the violin to the city of Jerusalem to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the founding of the state of Israel. It is now used by concertmasters of the Israel Philharmonic.
Current owner: City of Jerusalem
Last sold for: Unknown
1713 Gibson ex-Huberman Stradivarius
Polish violinist Bronisław Huberman owned this violin in the early 20th century before it was stolen from him – twice. In 1919, it was taken from his Vienna hotel room but returned several days later, and it later went missing again from his dressing room in 1936 as he was performing on stage with his new Guarneri. It was lost for nearly half a century, before an amateur violinist confessed on his deathbed that he had bought the stolen violin for $100.
Current owner: Joshua Bell
Last sold for: $4 million in 2001
1714 Soil Stradivarius
Considered one of Stradivari’s finest violins, the ‘Soil’ (named after a Belgian industrialist) was played by Yehudi Menuhin for the best part of his career before being sold to Itzhak Perlman, who has favoured instruments of Menuhin’s previously.
Current owner: Itzhak Perlman
Last sold for: £400,000 in 1986
1715 Lipinski Stradivarius
Made during the peak of Antonio Stradivari’s ‘golden period’, the Lipinski is best known because of its first owner Giuseppe Tartini, who wrote his infamous ‘Devil’s Trill’ Sonata to utilise the forces of this superb instrument. It’s currently played by Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s concertmaster Frank Almond, from whom it was stolen during an armed robbery after a concert in 2014.
Current owner: Anschuetz family, on loan to Frank Almond
Last sold for: $19,000 in 1962
1734 Willemotte Stradivarius
The 1734 Strad is named after the 19th-century collector Charles Willemotte of Antwerp, who owned 20 Stradivarius instruments throughout his life.
Current owner: Leonidas Kavakos
Last sold for: An unknown sum in 2017