Putin’s money courier splashes $6.5 million on pedigree Italian violins

Putin’s money courier splashes $6.5 million on pedigree Italian violins


norman lebrecht

December 06, 2020

It is reported that the cellist Sergei Roldugin who was revealed in the Panama Papers to be a Putin launderer, has spent $6.5 million on four 18th century violins that are credited to Giuseppe Guarneri, Giovanni Battista Guadagnini, Tommaso Balestrieri and Gaetano Pasta.

Roldugi bought them from Edwulstrad rmic ltd, a Swiss company belonging to Eduard Wolfson.

Read more here.



  • Giora says:

    Good for them!!

    • Sanda Schuldmann says:

      Really? How about the regular aspiring young musicians who don’t have that kind of money and continue to put out by the 1% who do nothing but jack up the prices and most often keep them as investments? Some occasionally lend them out. Imagine you are touring with a beloved instrument and in the middle of the tour, the owner takes it back from you, because he got an offer he couldn’t refuse. How would you feel? It happened years ago to Raya Garbousova, the fabulous cellist. I find it disgraceful as I find most of Putin’s actions.

      • Bill says:

        Fine violins have been bought by people who are not aspiring young musicians for centuries. The fact that the prices go up is precisely why many of those instruments still exist. If they didn’t, very few would have had the painstaking, expensive restoration work done to keep them in good condition.

      • Occamsrazor says:

        “Imagine you are touring with a beloved instrument and in the middle of the tour, the owner takes it back from you, because he got an offer he couldn’t refuse. How would you feel?” O, the horror! Imagine, an aspiring musician who cannot afford a historical instrument worth 6 and 7 figures, is given one to play for a period of time. All of a sudden the needs it back in order to sell. The aspiring musician is in the middle of a tour playing an instrument that doesn’t belong to him but is already beloved. If the aspiring musician is genuinely unable to perform on his old, unloved instrument anymore because he got so attached to the new beloved one, he can prevent the embarrassment of canceling the rest of the tour and choose to stay at home and practice the beloved one at home instead, in case the inhumane owner needed it back. Beggars can’t be choosers. Just imagine the horrors of the string players lives. Nevermind that pianists have to perform on different shit pianos every day of their lives with only a few minutes of warmup time, unless they are Horowitz, and nobody sheds a tear about them. It’s not a secret that today one can buy a fantastic modern violin that sounds as good as a Strad for 30K and the main reason that people crave priceless historical instruments is prestige and publicity. Genius can make genius-level music on the cheapest instrument while mediocrity will sound accordingly on a million$ one. If you listen to barely audible Rachmaninov recordings from 1913 you know in 5 seconds who is playing. I forgot to ask, what particular actions of Putin do you find disgraceful? I mean besides having friends who speculate in beloved old pieces of wood and refuse to wait for the moment to have their property returned that the aspiring musicians would consider appropriate.

      • David Sanders says:

        What happened with Garbousova? Which cello are you talking about? I studied with her for many years.

  • Ramon Jaffé says:

    Roldugin and Wulfson grew up in Riga/Latvia. Roldugin was a pupil of my father Don Jaffé at the special music school “E. Darzins”, Wulfson was a very gifted Violinist. So, it’s a Riga connection.

  • frank says:

    Weird article. The letters are all malformed. Have you been hacked?

  • Gregor Tassie says:

    These instruments will all be given to promising young Russian musicians to play so I really don’t see why people think this is anything more than a wonderful thing for young musicians who are starting out on their careers. All credit to Mr Roldugin.

  • Sam McElroy says:

    Since we’re talking of disgusting oligarchs, could we please find space to mention that Putin’s ally, Nicholas Maduro, stole the last remaining opposition controlled branch of government last night, the National Assembly, in an uncontested “election”. Nicholas Jr., he of the El Sistema board, was “elected” to said Assembly. So, let’s not beat around the bush. Putin, his ally Maduro, his regime-run El Sistema, their lackey Dudamel and every parasite feeding off the petroleum-marinaded carcass of Venezuela these last two decades…you know who you are… all are in the same miserable boat.

  • Karol Jozef Lipinski says:

    Neither borrower nor lender be…..

    • henry williams says:

      the problem is one violinist had a priceless violin
      which they left in the coffee bar . it was stolen by a tramp.lucky they found it. it was on loan to this musician.