A $45 Million Viola? The World’s Newest Most-Expensive Instrument


The predicted sale of the MacDonald Stradivari viola looked set to be the financial moment of the century for the fine violin market, with a reserve price of $45million. The pricing theory for the viola makes sense to me (even if that kind of sum for an instrument fills me with a kind of horror), not as the price of the viola, but as the opportunity cost of possessing a complete string quartet of Stradviari instruments – something that is otherwise unachievable. Therefore paying the same price as one would for the rest of the quartet conforms to a certain logic. The fault lies in the assumption that someone seeking to create a quartet would wish to build it from Stradivari violins and cellos of the extraordinarily fine condition in which the MacDonald is preserved. It is far more likely, therefore that the viola might sell for three times the median price of a Stradivari, than the world record price.

I was delighted to be interviewed by Vernon Silver at Bloomberg’s Rome office for his coverage of the MacDonald Stradivari, even though it turned out to be the non-event of the decade.


Read the article online here: A $45 Million Viola? The World’s Newest Most-Expensive Instrument.