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A Guarnieri Violin sold in New York for 9.44 million

A rare 292-year-old Guarneri violin known as the ‘Baltic’ sold for US$9.44 million at Tarisio, the global auction leader for rare stringed instruments and bows. The final sale price smashed the previous auction record of $3.6 million for any Guarneri instrument and marked the third-highest price ever achieved for a musical instrument at auction.

Front and back views of Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù’s the ‘Baltic’ of c. 1731, which sold for US$9.44 million at Tarisio New York on March 16, 2023.

The Guarnieri violin known as “The Baltic”

The ‘Baltic’ was hand-made circa 1731 by master luthier Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù, the scion of one of the three great violin-making families in Cremona, Italy whose stringed instruments are among the world’s most rare and prized musical instruments. Only about 150 Guarneri violins are known to exist, as compared to about 600 by Stradivari. Guarneri violins are prized by musicians for their deep and sonorous tone. Isaac Stern, Jascha Heifetz, and Itzhak Perlman are among the great artists who have performed on the world’s stages with Guarneri violins.

The ‘Baltic’ was crafted from beautifully-flamed, high-quality maple wood that is among the finest ever used by violin-makers of the era. As a singular example of the luthier’s innovative craftsmanship, the ‘Baltic’ has been exhibited twice at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art. It was offered for sale at Tarisio after nearly 50 years in the family collection of the late Asian-American businessman Sau-Wing Lam (1923-1988), a musician and noted collector of rare musical instruments who generously supported young musicians throughout his lifetime. 

 “To sell this extraordinary violin for nearly triple the previous auction record price for a Guarneri demonstrates the strength of global demand for rare and historic musical instruments. The top three auction prices for stringed instruments have now all been realized at Tarisio, cementing our status as the premier global auction partner for the sale of important Guarneri and Stradivari violins. We are delighted to have been entrusted with the sale of the ‘Baltic’ and to celebrate the legacy of Sau-Wing Lam, one of the great benefactors and collectors in the field of classical music.”

Carlos Tomè, Director of Sales at Tarisio

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