‘Lady Blunt’ Stradivari Violin to Be Sold for Charity


One of the best-known—and best-preserved—­instruments produced by legendary violin maker Antonio Stradivari is to be auctioned June 20 for charity by online auction hosts Tarisio. The instrument’s owners, the Nippon Foundation, are selling the “Lady Blunt” Strad to raise money for victims of the earthquake and tsunami that devastated Japan.

The “Lady Blunt,” which has broken price records each time it has been sold in the last century, last sold in 2008 for $10 million. Produced toward the end of his “Golden Period” in 1721, the nearly 300-year-old instrument remains in a remarkable state of preservation. It has been recognized as one of the finest instruments produced by the master violin maker from Cremona, since being discovered in 1860 by French violin maker Jean Baptiste Vuillaume after spending a century in a Spanish attic.

While the sale of the instrument is exciting for those interested in violins, the purpose of the sale remains intensely focused on the tragic events that will continue to affect the people of Japan for many years.

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“Each of the instruments in our collection is very dear to us. However, the extent of the devastation facing Japan is very serious and we feel that everyone and every organization should make some sacrifice for those affected by this tragedy,” wrote Nippon Music Foundation president Kazuko Shiomi in a press release related to the sale. All proceeds from the sale will go to the Nippon Foundation’s Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

The “Lady Blunt” is named after one of its caretakers, Lady Anne Blunt (1837–1917), who was a member of the British aristocracy and one of Lord Byron’s grandchildren.

The sale includes the instrument’s original bass bar and fingerboard, which Vuillaume removed when he adapted the instrument for modern playing needs in the 1860s. Some of Antonio Stradivari’s legendary varnish remains on the underside of the fingerboard.

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