Violin heard on 'Wizard of Oz' soundtrack heads under the hammer

·2-min read
A rare Stradivarius that belonged to the violinist Toscha Seidel will go under the hammer, June 9.

Movie buffs might have heard this instrument in action in "The Wizard of Oz." Now, this rare Stradivarius violin is set to go up for sale in June via the specialist auction house, Tarisio. It could set a new sales record for a violin.

This stringed instrument, nicknamed "Da Vinci," was made by Antonio Stradivari in 1714. This date coincides with the "golden age" of the famous Italian violin maker, between the 1710s and the 1730s. During this period, he made his finest instruments, including the Stradivarius going under the hammer at Tarisio. According to the auction house, this is the first time in 15 years that a violin made during Stradivari's "golden age" has been offered at auction.

This collector's item made the front page of the New York Times on April 27, 1924, after it was purchased for $25,000 by violinist Toscha Seidel. The Stradivarius remained in his possession for nearly 40 years. The Russian-American virtuoso used it to record the soundtracks of many Hollywood movies of the 1940s, including "The Wizard of Oz."

"It is our tremendous pleasure to present this instrument, whose exquisite voice still speaks to us through many classical recordings and film scores performed by the incomparable Toscha Seidel," said Carlos Tome, director at Tarisio, in a statement. "We can only imagine the thrill that this instrument has generated for countless musicians and audiences over the centuries."

Stradivarius vs Guarnerius

This Stradivarius will go under the hammer on June 9. It could sell for between $16 million and $20 million, according to Variety . It has the potential to become the most expensive violin ever sold at auction, surpassing the $15.9 million fetched by another Stradivarius in 2011.

Seidel's "Da Vinci" will face some competition, however, as Aguttes will auction another exceptional violin on June 6 -- this time, a Guarnerius "del Gesù." It was made in Italy in 1736 by the legendary violin maker and great rival of Antonio Stradivari, Bartolomeo Giuseppe Guarnerius. It has been owned for more than 20 years by the French violinist, Régis Pasquier.

Aguttes states that it has been more than 10 years since a Guarnerius "del Gesù" violin has been offered for sale. And an exceptional lot means a grandiose estimate, as this violin is estimated to fetch between €4 and €4.5 million ($4.2 to $4.7 million) -- around five times less than the "Da Vinci" by Seidel.

Caroline Drzewinski

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