October 26, 2005
Paganini violin for sale at $887,000
By Jeremy Lovell
LONDON (Reuters) - A violin created by one of the world's
leading makers and once owned by Italian maestro Nicolo
Paganini goes to auction next week with an asking price of
500,000 pounds ($887,000).
Not only is it the first time one of Paganini's cherished
instruments has come up for auction, it is one of only 50
surviving violins by master craftsman Carlo Bergonzi of
"As a Carlo Bergonzi it is already rare. Add the Paganini
factor and it becomes exotic," Tim Ingles, head of musical
instruments at auction house Sotheby's, told Reuters on
The violin dates from around 1720 when Bergonzi was in his
late 30s and already a powerful name in his own right, ranking
third behind the towering Cremonese makers Josef Guarneri and
It is not known when Paganini -- whose virtuoso playing
made people believe he had struck a deal with the devil --
acquired the instrument.
But it is known to have been among the 20 violins,
including 10 Stradivaris, passed to his son Achille on
Paganini's death in 1840 and certified as a Bergonzi in 1870 by
French dealer and violin-maker Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume.
It changed hands several times over the ensuing 80 years
before ending up with John Corrigliano, who was concert master
of the New York Philharmonic orchestra from 1943 to 1966.
In 1957 he sold it to an amateur violinist whose daughter
is offering it for sale on November 1 -- the first time a
Bergonzi has come to auction since 1984 when another of his
instruments fetched 120,000 pounds.
Ingles said the current example was not in perfect
condition because it had been played, which could detract from
its sale price potential.
"It is a players' instrument, and I would expect it to be
played by or on behalf of whoever acquires it next Tuesday," he