Sotheby’s are hyping up the late Peter Schidlof’s Stradivarius for a $45 million sale, with uncritical assistance from the New York Times and other unquestioning mass media. The instrument’s history has The Dutch composer Leo Samama has contacted Slipped Disc with the viola’s family history. Here’s his account:
The MacDonald viola by Stradivarius was purchased by my late father in 1961 at Max Möller’s in Amsterdam for some 300,000 Dutch guilders (US$ 82,872 in 1961 values) and given on loan to be used by Peter Schildlof.
In those days my parents owned several Stradivarii, which were used by some of the great Dutch musicians of the day. Later, in the seventies, Peter asked my father as a friend since many years to sell the instrument to him, which my father did for the same price as he had paid Möller….
As I said: just to put the records straight. My father died in 1992, Peter in 1987. So someone had to tell the story….
On these figures, this ‘priceless’ and ‘finest viola in existence’ changed hands for less than $100,000 around 40 years ago. How is it possible that it should now be worth $45 million? It makes no economic sense at all.