The instrument, which was made in 1707, once belonged to the Italian composer and musician Nicolo Paganini. Although a price was not disclosed, the New York Times reported that the sale exceeded the previous record held for a Stradivari cello of $6 million (£3.8 million).
Indeed, rare-instrument dealer Christopher Reuning – who handled the sale – told the news provider that the cello sold for “a fair bit above” the bid price of $6 million.
Most recently, the instrument, nicknamed the Countess of Stainlein, was owned by Bernard Greenhouse from the Beaux Arts Trio, who until his death last year played the instrument for 50 years.
According to Reuning Private Sales, the cello is associated with the Countess but it is more likely that it was acquired by the Count Louis Charles Georges Corneille de Stainlein, a renowned amateur cellist. The Countess was not thought to have played an instrument, but did correspond with composers including Franz Liszt. She held the cello in her possession until her death in 1908.
The auctioneer described that the instrument represents a “pivotal moment” in Stradivari’s quest to refine and perfect the cello.
The name of the buyer was undisclosed, but Mr Reuning confirmed that it had gone to a “patroness of the arts from Montreal”.
Eighteen-year-old Montreal player Stephane Tetreault has been lent the cello by the patroness to help with his music career, abiding with Mr Greenhouse’s family’s wishes to sell the cello to a deserving musician.
He is due to play the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the Orchestre Metropolitain of Montreal later this year with the instrument.
While the quality and value of a Stradivarius is well-known, recent research from the University of Paris suggests that many people cannot tell the difference between a multi-million pound violin and one that was made last week.
When played blindfolded, musicians were asked to rank three modern instruments and three by Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu, with the new instruments winning in terms of playing quality.
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