Lady Blunt goes down in straight shootout

Lady Blunt goes down in straight shootout


norman lebrecht

June 20, 2011

There were two strong bidders for the Lady Blunt Stradivarius and the winner paid £8.75 million ($14.2m), an auction record for a Cremona instrument. Plus a million and a bit more to the auction house.

That’s a lot of money for a trophy instrument that will never be played after decades of disuse. The buyer remains anonymous, wisely no doubt.


  • Bill says:

    There are three bidders clearly shown in the Tarisio bid history. One of them made only one bid.

    While I am not in favor of the “Lady Blunt” making a return to the concert stage, that she hasn’t been played much recently is not at all a reason why she couldn’t. The violin is in fine physical condition and built on one of his best models; I spent a few hours with it in a private viewing. I’ve played a number of Stradivari and Guarneri “del Gesu” instruments which have had lengthy “vacations” from playing, some as long as a century. They do fine after they’ve been played a bit. As long as the instrument remains sound (as the “Lady Blunt” is), there is no permanent degradation of the tonal characteristics and responsiveness.

    • I agree – I don’t think the length of disuse is necessarily an impediment to its being played or it sounding great. The Viotti Strad at the Royal Academy of Music went unplayed for about 150 years (I think) and sounds pretty darn good now – I even heard a very fine violinist say it was the greatest instrument they had ever played. If there’s some condition of sale that it not be played for preservation purposes, that’s a different matter (I don’t know if there is or not, or even if such a thing is possible, btw). While I think it is a little bit of a shame that it might not be played, I don’t subscribe to the whole ‘it’s there to be played’ argument that criticises these things living in museums – we have many fine Strads (and other makers are available) that are used constantly and, if we allow heavy use, it might not be there for future generations to see and to study hundreds of years hence.

  • The 20 minutes which I spent studying the “Lady Blunt” Stradivari in New York a couple of weeks before the sale were among the most memorable in my career as an instrument specialist. The violin is in such great perfect state of preservation that it becomes a time portal. It takes you back to 1721 much more than any other violin. It must have looked very similar when J.B. Vuillaume(1798-1875) “The French Stradivari” first saw it during the 19th Century. There are other Strads in great state of preservation, and some will definitely break record prizes in the future. They will keep going up as the demand for a product of which only 550 examples exist, and only a very small percentage is available on the market at any given time. Certainly, this one was special in its own way, but they are all special….

    Paolo Alberghini,
    Specialist in Fine and Rare Violins,Violas, and Cellos. New York

  • garab says:

    Segun la información del periódico El País, día 26 de Junio en la sección cultura,”La Mona Lisa de cuatro cuerdas”; el Stradivarius LADY BLUNT, es una copia o una pieza de época falsa. En la etiqueta original debería decir: Antonius StradiVarius y dice: Antonius StradiUarius, cuando se cambia la V por la U es una pieza falsa,
    Si alguien está interesado le puedo conseguir los que quieran