A ‘Leonardo da Vinci of violins’ goes up for auction in France


Written by ReutersParis, France

A near three-century-old instrument lauded as a Leonardo da Vinci of violins could fetch as much as 10 million euros ($10.6 million) when it is auctioned next month, the French house overseeing the sale said.

Crafted in 1736 by revered Italian luthier Giuseppe Guarneri, it is owned by virtuoso Regis Pasquier and its sound has graced concert halls around the world.

“There are many violins, but this one is like selling a Rembrandt, a Goya or even a Leonardo da Vinci painting,” said Sophie Perrine of the Aguttes auction house near Paris.

The violin on display during a media preview at Aguttes auction house. Credit: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

The maple-backed instrument is one of about 150 made by Guarneri, the quality and longevity of whose output rivals that of Antonio Stradivari but who was far less prolific than his compatriot and contemporary.

Made at the peak of Guarneri’s career, it was bought more than 20 years ago by Pasquier, who gave a concert with it following day without even practicing on it, Perrine said. “For him, this instrument was perfect.”

He has since played it at prestigious venues including Carnegie Hall in New York and the Opera Garnier in Paris.

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The violin will go up for auction on June 3 following a three-day viewing. Its base price estimate is 4 to 4.5 million euros, but Perrine said it could sell for up to 10 million.

“It’s both something very old but yet very current and alive,” she said. “And this little thing will continue allowing people to hear its exceptional sound for years to come.”

Top image caption: The rare 1736 violin is displayed during a media preview at Aguttes auction house ahead of the violin’s auction in Neuilly-sur-Seine, near Paris, France, April 26, 2022.

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