One of the last violins to be created by violin-maker Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri, known as the Vieuxtemps Guarneri, has been put up for sale for a record price of $18m (£12m) in Chicago. Made in 1741 and later owned by French composer Henri Vieuxtemps, the instrument has been played by some of the world’s greatest violinists including Itzhak Perlman, Yehudi Menuhin and Pinchas Zukerman over the last 269 years.
Currently owned by Ian Stoutzker, a retired British financier, the historic instrument is being sold through one of the world’s leading traders in violins, Bein & Fushi of Chicago, which has already received offers for the violin from across the globe.
‘I believe it is a living entity, a living being’ Geoffrey Fushi, co-founder of Bein & Fushi, professed in The Guardian; ‘Musicians say the same thing, that the instrument dictates to them how they play the music.’
Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarneri, known in the violin trade as ‘del Gesu’ because his labels always incorporated the characters I.H.S. (Iesu Hominum Salvator) and a Roman cross, is considered one of the greatest violin-makers of all time, some specialists considering his craft superior to that of the legendary Antonio Stradivari.
The sale price for the Vieuxtemps is nearly double the previous record price for a musical instrument, which was another Guarneri violin, the Kochanski (named after the great Polish violinist who helped Szymanowski and Prokofiev compose some of their great violin masterpieces), sold in October 2009 for $10m (£7m).