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Auctions and the Economy


Elaine
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I thought about labeling this post, "It's the economy stupid."; but in an International forum I didn't think that kind of political allusion was appropriate.

Anyway, Tarisio's December auction of speculative and restorable instruments closed long enough ago for people who follow these things to have formed an opinion.

Anyone have an opinion as to how that auction fared?

Elaine

Norman, OK

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Anyone have an opinion as to how that auction fared?

As it went along I felt that the going prices were often well below the lower estimate - so I saved my money for an English violin near the end (est 2000 - 3000) expecting it would go for about 1500. Then it went up to 5000 so I didn't get it! On the other hand one bow (Pajeot with later frog and button) was estimated at 3000 - 5000 and actually went up to 10000.

Tarisio reported a sale of 89.9% of items which I think is around normal, but a lot of things did go at less than the pre-sale estimate.

Ed

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I thought about labeling this post, "It's the economy stupid."; but in an International forum I didn't think that kind of political allusion was appropriate.

Anyway, Tarisio's December auction of speculative and restorable instruments closed long enough ago for people who follow these things to have formed an opinion.

Anyone have an opinion as to how that auction fared?

Elaine

Norman, OK

In the January 2009 edition of Strings magazine, David Bonsey of Skinners, states that the violin business doesn't go up or down according to the credit market. He maintains it's a cash business for dealers and musicians alike.

Let's face it, some of us who don't know the difference between a bond and a hedge fund are always looking for a safe haven for money in troubled markets and what could be nicer than an antique bow of known provenance and in good condition.?

Glenn

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The business of violin trade is known to a very small number of population world-wide. Even fewer of those are true connoisseurs who are well-educated on the subject. Most of these people are bound by rules other than those of the market. Therefore, any fluctuations in the world economy are not likely to affect sales of fine instruments on auctions. With that said, a major historic event such as a world war or a natural disaster of epic proportions will definitely have a negative impact on the trade. There are many stories of people trading priceless instruments for a loaf of bread during WWII along with other things.

As far as the auctions of today are concerned, it seems to me that the quantity of quality instruments offered is shrinking exponentially, while estimated price grow in the same manner. Tarisio had several interesting items this December, all of which went for extraordinary prices. Even the lesser instruments realized surprisingly high prices.

Overall the market for lesser violins of German, Hungarian, Dutch, and French schools is expanding drastically. A recent poll in China indicated that there over 18000000 violin players there alone. In my experience, most of the well-versed Chinese are not too eager to purchase a violin made in their country and are looking for inexpensive older instruments ($2k to $10K). This will mean a great increase in demand for such violins, violas and cellos accompanied by noticeable rise of prices.

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I had four violins at the auction, only one of which reached it's low estimate, which was well below what I thought it was worth. I lost a lot of money on the four, not to mention the endless hours/weeks it took me to restore them to optimal playing condition. On three of them, I could have done much better on ebay, which I long ago gave up on, seeing how I never made anything at all on the violins I listed there. Consequently, my focus is now on local sales, very sparse, but very profitable in comparison. I'll not even consider Tarisio as an option for a very, very long time. My "lesser quality instruments" went well below Tarisio's low estimates, with the exception of the one that just barely made it. None of them were trade violins.

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Anybody who says that high-end collectibles are immune from the forces of the economy is either trying to sell somebody a bridge or is living in a dreamworld. High-end collectibles are somewhat recession-resistant, especially if they are irreplaceable rarities such as Stradivarii. Other than at that very rarified end of the market, times are tough all over. The inventory of high-end properties, high-end automobiles, and other high-end toys on the market has skyrocketed as those who invested with the Lehmans and the Madoffs of the world scramble to raise cash and those who might otherwise buy are tightening their belts or trolling for deals. Transactions are way down, in all venues, and dealers of 'exclusive' merchandise are offering 'Sales' for the first time in memory. Just yesterday, I learned that a former high-end realtor in Breckenridge is now working as a bell-hop. So it goes.

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I think the two posters above who made the comments about the violin trade being a handful of people who are relatively recession resistant are right to an extent. You are not going to see Strads suddenly selling in five figures. The handful of people who buy and sell in the millions are going to be less effected than the rest of us, but the last Tarisio auction wasn't aimed at them. The last Tarisio auction, and most auction lots, are dependent on normal people paying decent prices for instruments that aren't Strads.

I think the other comments have been very interesting. There were a couple of comments about particular items that did very well, and another comment about generally disappointing results. I don't know that any conclusions can be drawn from the comments of a handful of people about a single auction, but it does seem that buyers are still willing to pay for something specific that they are seriously interested in, but are less interested in buying inventory without an end player in mind.

It now looks like I will be in London during the March Tarisio viewing. Here is to hoping I find a great price on a good bow.

Elaine

Norman, OK

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I think you'll do well with your bow search, unless you're looking for something like a Tourte. My recent experiences in various areas lead me to believe there's a softness for midrange stuff; the very high-end is holding pretty well, as the very well-to-do look to blue-chip collectibles to shelter their cash, but ordinary collectors are strapped for funds.

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I think the two posters above who made the comments about the violin trade being a handful of people who are relatively recession resistant are right to an extent. You are not going to see Strads suddenly selling in five figures. The handful of people who buy and sell in the millions are going to be less effected than the rest of us, but the last Tarisio auction wasn't aimed at them. The last Tarisio auction, and most auction lots, are dependent on normal people paying decent prices for instruments that aren't Strads.

I think the other comments have been very interesting. There were a couple of comments about particular items that did very well, and another comment about generally disappointing results. I don't know that any conclusions can be drawn from the comments of a handful of people about a single auction, but it does seem that buyers are still willing to pay for something specific that they are seriously interested in, but are less interested in buying inventory without an end player in mind.

It now looks like I will be in London during the March Tarisio viewing. Here is to hoping I find a great price on a good bow.

Elaine

Norman, OK

The extremely high end violin will probably sell for approximately 25% less.

I have not seen too many high end stuff lately, I don't a serious collector would sell into this market,

fine estate instruments will of course pop up and we will see how they fare.

Prices at auction houses like Skinners and Tarisio are definitely low.

Estimates are very low and they struggle to met those. Of course,

some violin or bow will do better then expected but those are few.

Ebay auction prices are also lower then last year.

It is a buyer market.

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I thought about labeling this post, "It's the economy stupid."; but in an International forum I didn't think that kind of political allusion was appropriate.

Anyway, Tarisio's December auction of speculative and restorable instruments closed long enough ago for people who follow these things to have formed an opinion.

Anyone have an opinion as to how that auction fared?

Elaine

Norman, OK

I know this is the wrong place to post this question but I cannot get new topic to upload. Item #190277011756 is up on ebay and closes in about 5 hours. It is listed as a 1924 Roth but to my eyes the violin and label looks like a 1972 Roth. Is the new owner in for a "ebay" surprise or are my eyes going bad?

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"Item #190277011756 is up on ebay and closes in about 5 hours. It is listed as a 1924 Roth but to my eyes the violin and label looks like a 1972 Roth. Is the new owner in for a "ebay" surprise or are my eyes going bad?"

That violin is surely bogus. It doesn't look nice enough for Roth's 1724 Strad model, and the brand looks too distinct. But the real giveaway is all the fake bows that the seller has sold.

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Interesting comments about the potential effects on the high-end of the market. Anyone know if there has been a price reduction on the $20million del Gesu that Bein and Fushi are offering on behalf of a London banker? Additionally, I woud guess there are other similar collectors who are looking at their fiddles and wondering if they might have to liquidate their assets after all...

Now only.. $18999999, Hurry Sale Must End Soon!

By the way, are there any recordings/pics of this $20m instrument on the net? Anyone on here ever seen/heard it up close?

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Interesting comments about the potential effects on the high-end of the market. Anyone know if there has been a price reduction on the $20million del Gesu that Bein and Fushi are offering on behalf of a London banker? Additionally, I woud guess there are other similar collectors who are looking at their fiddles and wondering if they might have to liquidate their assets after all...

Now only.. $18999999, Hurry Sale Must End Soon!

By the way, are there any recordings/pics of this $20m instrument on the net? Anyone on here ever seen/heard it up close?

It is the 1741 which was Vieuxtemps' working instrument, passed onto Ysaÿe upon his death. Here is the Cozio entry with pics (for high-res pics go directly to Tarisio archives):

http://www.cozio.com/instrument.aspx?id=433

La Scena article about the sale of the violin and a timely discussion of high-end instrument prices:

http://www.scena.org/columns/lebrecht/081022-NL-violin.html

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