Macdonald viola fails to sell at £27m

- 26 June 2014

The $45m (£27m) anticipated minimum price for the 1719 ‘Macdonald’ Stradivarius viola has not been met, auctioneer Sotheby’s has confirmed.

Old Macdonald: 1719 instrument fails to sell

Old Macdonald: 1719 instrument fails to sell

‘At this time, no sale has taken place’, said a statement by Sotheby’s. A spokesperson told CM that, despite the deadline for sealed bids having passed, ‘We do anticipate that the “Macdonald” will be pursued and that further offers closer to $45 million will be made.’

The instrument was being sold through Sotheby’s and Ingles & Hayday, the specialist house set up in 2013 by former Sotheby’s employees Tim Ingles and Paul Hayday.

The viola, one of 11 known existing Stradivarius violas, was played by Peter Schidlof of the Amadeus Quartet from 1964 to 1987 and had been purchased for him for $81,000 (£47,500) by Philips, parent company of the quartet’s label, Deutsche Grammophon. It is being sold on behalf of Schidlof’s heirs.

Opening the bidding process, Ingles said the instrument had been ‘immaculately preserved’ and stressed the rarity of the sale: ‘No Stradivari viola has been on the market for the last fifty years so this is truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.’

After Christie’s recently failed to sell the 1731 ‘Kreutzer’ violin, the heights of the string instrument market are appearing increasingly rarefied. ‘It looks as if some sanity may return to the top end of instrument prices,’ wrote Norman Lebrecht on his Slpped Disc blog. ‘Which is good news for everyone &#8210 unless you own one.’

David Aaron Carpenter plays the 1719 ‘Macdonald’ Stradivarius

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