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Anne Akiko Meyers Buys Strad for Record Price

Anne Akiko Meyers

Meyers has nicknamed her new violin Molly.

The bidding for a 1697 Stradivari violin with a provenance that includes Napoleon Bonaparte was fierce. “The bids shot up from about $1.8 million to $2.9 in about three minutes,” Jason Price says of the sale that closed October 14. The bidders came from all quarters—players, collectors, and institutions, and hailing from Europe, Asia, and the United States. In the end, concert artist Anne Akiko Meyers emerged the victor. The sale set a new auction record for any musical instrument at $3.6 million.

“It was love at first sound,” Meyers says. “Its power, feel, and range of color are extraordinary. I look forward to sharing this sound with the world.”

At press time, her October 23 performance with the Pasadena Symphony was scheduled to be the violin’s first public appearance in 16 years.

“She’s over the moon,” Price says of the new owner. “She bought it to use and she’ll be a great steward of the instrument and a great continuation” of the instrument’s storied provenance.

The “ex-Molitor” is believed to have been owned by Napoleon Bonaparte and takes its name from former owner Count Gabriel-Jean-Joseph Molitor, a general in Napoleon’s army who purchased it in 1804. The violin remained in his family for more than 70 years. Other previous owners include the Curtis Institute in Philadelphia and the American violinist Elmar Oliveira.

“The rest of the sale exceeded my expectations,” Price says.

The sale set a world record with a take of more than $9 million in the final accounting. The catalog included instruments by not only Stradivari but also Nicolo Amati, Andrea Guarneri, and Francesco Ruggieri—representing four of the five leading families of Cremona—as well as J.B. Vuillaume.

Price attributes Tarisio’s success to three criteria: “Stuff, structure, and service. The good stuff sells itself.”

*This article appeared in Strings January 2011
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