dillywilly

Selling an expensive violin

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I agree strongly with Martin that you should be extremely careful about having ANY work done by someone who does not specialize in instruments of great value. As in just don't do it.

I also agree with Jeffrey that for what you are discussing there is one dealer in Boston who would be the logical person to approach about this not to mention that Jeffrey himself is certainly able to advise you as well.

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Yes, I would take Jeffrey Holmes advice and also consider selling it, or showing it, to a reputable auction house, i.e. Tarisio...an international auction will reach the entire world, and the sellers fee would most likely be negotiable (usually in the 10% area up to a certain point and then go down...;).

Good luck, sounds like you have a treasure (not just a monetary one)!

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3 hours ago, dillywilly said:

... the violin dealing world seems to me as desperate/greedy to make a buck...

You are a wise man and a fast learner. You may want to contact Tarisio Fine Instruments. They have an excellent reputation and can offer your violin at auction to a world-wide audience of very deep-pockets. I believe their current selling fee is 10% (9% commission and 1% insurance fee). Their telephone number is 800-814-4188. Tell them Mark Neukirchen sent you (just kidding).

Edit: Looks like mmmm beat me to the punch :)

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3 hours ago, dillywilly said:

Thanks very much for the genuine information, I really appreciate it. Some of the comments though spooked me even more, not to mention the 38 private messages I've gotten offering to sell the violin. Some of you though gave me good information and I really appreciate it again. In the 80s, my brother was a junk bond trader, made a lot of money in a greedy frenzy, then shot it up his nose. He died on the street in 1991, I think the most he made one year was 3 Million dollars. I mention this because some of the comments here/the feel of the violin dealing world seems to me as desperate/greedy to make a buck, it's scary to somebody who spent 40 years saving every penny. Take care of yourselves, money aint everything (advice from an old man)  :).

-It was bought from a company called Wurlitzer

-Nothing is wrong with it/changed. I was offered 7 figures minus 25%. The money will fund the rest of my life and then be donated to Catholic charities when I die.

-At this point, I think I'm going to bring it to a repair man in Boston, he's old and honest, a good pair in my opinion.  

 

Sir, if the violin is as you portray it, you would be wise to accept the counsel of Jeffrey, Nathan and Martin,  who are all long-time pros in this field, and none stands to gain any kind of commission from their disinterested advice to you.

Wurlitzer at one time was the Hills of the field in America.  If you have Wurlitzer papers, and the instrument has been untouched, you indeed do have a treasure on your hands, and there is only a (very) small handful of dealers in America I would trust with such an item.

Keep in mind that the way to sell this is NOT thru Tarisio or any other auction house, unless you're desperate for immediate cash (sorry guys).  Yes, they can expedite a sale, but almost always at the seller's expense.  It's the rare item indeed that ever gets auctioned off at full MSRP.

Last bit of advice (for your own good, as I always tell my nieces...): Please don't equate age and honesty.  That's foolish, and we can all tell you're too smart for that!

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4 minutes ago, LeMaster said:

Sir, if the violin is as you portray it, you would be wise to accept the counsel of Jeffrey, Nathan and Martin,  who are all long-time pros in this field, and none stands to gain any kind of commission from their disinterested advice to you.

Wurlitzer at one time was the Hills of the field in America.  If you have Wurlitzer papers, and the instrument has been untouched, you indeed do have a treasure on your hands, and there is only a (very) small handful of dealers in America I would trust with such an item.

Keep in mind that the way to sell this is NOT thru Tarisio or any other auction house, unless you're desperate for immediate cash (sorry guys).  Yes, they can expedite a sale, but almost always at the seller's expense.  It's the rare item indeed that ever gets auctioned off at full MSRP.

Last bit of advice (for your own good, as I always tell my nieces...): Please don't equate age and honesty.  That's foolish, and we can all tell you're too smart for that!

Lady Blunt. 'Nuff said.

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In the rare instances when a violin is unique and world class, and when the sale is for charity (eg the Nippon Foundation donating to Tsunami relief), then an auction house with a great publicity machine would be the right venue.

In all other circumstances, sale at auction is for dealers who have something they can't get rid of, estate lawyers who are fed up with warring claimants, or people who want less cash but sooner.

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8 minutes ago, martin swan said:

In the rare instances when a violin is unique and world class, and when the sale is for charity (eg the Nippon Foundation donating to Tsunami relief), then an auction house with a great publicity machine would be the right venue.

In all other circumstances, sale at auction is for dealers who have something they can't get rid of, estate lawyers who are fed up with warring claimants, or people who want less cash but sooner.

Just curious, how many seven figure instruments are you aware of that wouldn't be considered unique and world class?

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I can think of one Strad and one del Gesu that did quite poorly at auction, neither was world class.

But to throw it back at you, 7 figure instruments rarely end up at auction because people with that sort of asset are prepared to wait, and if it's nice enough, all the auction houses will sell it privately.

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25 minutes ago, martin swan said:

I can think of one Strad and one del Gesu that did quite poorly at auction, neither was world class.

Over how many years span did these two sales occur?

25 minutes ago, martin swan said:

But to throw it back at you, 7 figure instruments rarely end up at auction because people with that sort of asset are prepared to wait, and if it's nice enough, all the auction houses will sell it privately.

Tarisio offers private sales if time is not of the essence to dillywilly. If time is of the essence, they have their fine instrument auctions. It almost sounds like we are in agreement.

Jason, please make my commission check payable to Mark Neukirchen, c/o Maestronet ;)

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Actually another rather humpty FrankenStrad comes to mind from one of Beare's sales last year. So 3 in the last 4 (?) years.

But if your question was how many 7 figure instruments am I aware of that aren't unique and world-class, rather than how many have I seen at auction, then dozens (though I'm assuming you mean $ rather than £). There are a lot of cellos out there from lesser Cremonese makers or Venetian, riddled with worm, major patches, entirely lined fronts. Quite a few big name violins that no-one is buying because the sound doesn't inspire.

Yes a private sale through Tarisio would be a good option. I'm sure if the violin is notable, Tarisio themselves wouldn't recommend putting it into auction.

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15 minutes ago, martin swan said:

Actually another rather humpty FrankenStrad comes to mind from one of Beare's sales last year. So 3 in the last 4 (?) years.

Just to be clear, you are saying that the three you are referring to sold for at least seven figures USD, right? If not, they do not meet the criteria of the original question.

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You know, $1M isn't that big a sum - pretty much buys you a Guadagnini. I haven't been following that closely but I think there might be more than 3. I'm just thinking of Strads and DGs.

Not sure what we're arguing about. Im saying that for your average 7 figure instrument, given how many there are in circulation, it's revealing that so very few come up at auction. What it reveals is that auction isn't the normal route for instruments of this quality or value. Ergo, I would re-iterate what Larry is saying, that it really is not the best route for the OP, unless he's in a mad rush to get some cash. I doubt he is, or he would already have taken the 7 figures minus 25% offer.

 

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I have no stake in this, and I hope it goes very well for you.  Mr. Holmes has shown himself to be as transparent and capable a person as there is in the world.  I would trust him to give you good advice.  There are few people as qualified has he is.  Be very careful and be sure to have insurance to cover the instrument in the mean time.

 

All the best,

 

DLB

(I have no business interest of any kind with Mr. Holmes)

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Once it is sold...or arrangements have been made to sell it...I would love to know what it is! :)

It be should be safe enough to do a "reveal" at that point.

Good luck! I hope you enjoy the adventure!

 

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10 hours ago, Mark Neukirchen said:

You are a wise man and a fast learner. You may want to contact Tarisio Fine Instruments. They have an excellent reputation and can offer your violin at auction to a world-wide audience of very deep-pockets. I believe their current selling fee is 10% (9% commission and 1% insurance fee). Their telephone number is 800-814-4188. Tell them Mark Neukirchen sent you (just kidding).

Edit: Looks like mmmm beat me to the punch :)

 

9 hours ago, Mark Neukirchen said:

Lady Blunt. 'Nuff said.

 

10 hours ago, Mark Neukirchen said:

You are a wise man and a fast learner. You may want to contact Tarisio Fine Instruments. They have an excellent reputation and can offer your violin at auction to a world-wide audience of very deep-pockets. I believe their current selling fee is 10% (9% commission and 1% insurance fee). Their telephone number is 800-814-4188. Tell them Mark Neukirchen sent you (just kidding).

Edit: Looks like mmmm beat me to the punch :)

Mark; The seller's commission is around 10%, the buyer's around 20% up to a specific amount.  I know you deal with auctions... do you ignore the buyer's commission when you bid? :) 

Anyway, I covered this on the first page.  I wrote:

"Dean mentioned auctions.  They are certainly a viable option, though don't expect sale price to be full retail (with exceptions of some very rare and desirable pieces).  Most major action houses charge the buyer around 20% of the hammer price (up to a certain, substantial, amount... then the % drops slightly) and the seller around 10%.  That's closing in on 30%.  The seller gets the hammer less 10% (less if there are applicable expenses), not the published sale price. Commission is commission.  Those buying will know what they are paying."

I guess the first page tends to be skipped over as the threads get hot.

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The "true Beares", mostly Charles and Peter at the moment, may have different things to say than the shop which took on the mantra. Nobody working there with the Beare surname (which I consider to be quite honorable). as far as I know;

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On 1/24/2017 at 10:59 AM, dillywilly said:

...I have limited funds, in fact the violin is pretty much all I have. I'm 68 and on a fixed income.

First off, let me state that I am in no way implying that anyone associated with Maestronet would ever do anything immoral. With that being said, my thought process regarding this issue revolves around the importance of transparency in high dollar sales. If a search is done on violin fraud, it will quickly become apparent that a lack of transparency played a role in the majority of these situations. The open outcry of an auction environment will naturally 'reduce' the likelihood of corruption. All things being equal, I would much rather have hundreds of experts (and players) deciding what an item is worth than only a few. I have no vested interest in this situation other than the natural moral desire for this fellow to get the most he can for his family heirloom. The fact that he already picked up on the feeding frenzy created by his dilemma tells me he will probably do just fine. JMHO

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11 minutes ago, Mark Neukirchen said:

First off, let me state that I am in no way implying that anyone associated with Maestronet would ever do anything immoral. With that being said, my thought process regarding this issue revolves around the importance of transparency in high dollar sales. If a search is done on violin fraud, it will quickly become apparent that a lack of transparency played a role in the majority of these situations. The open outcry of an auction environment will naturally 'reduce' the likelihood of corruption. All things being equal, I would much rather have hundreds of experts (and players) deciding what an item is worth than only a few. I have no vested interest in this situation other than the natural moral desire for this fellow to get the most he can for his family heirloom. The fact that he already picked up on the feeding frenzy created by his dilemma tells me he will probably do just fine. JMHO

Although my selling "expertise" is in another area, I tend to agree with this.

The high end violin business seems rather seedy.

Sell it auction; let the dealers, investors and players fight over it and hope for the best.  At least it will sell (in your lifetime).

BTW, since when did well heeled buyers ever pay "full msrp" for anything?  I thought they knew better?

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3 hours ago, David Burgess said:

The "true Beares", mostly Charles and Peter at the moment, may have different things to say than the shop which took on the mantra. Nobody working there with the Beare surname (which I consider to be quite honorable). as far as I know;

Yes of course - I assume everyone knows this. Charles Beare, Peter Beare and Freddy Beare are Beare Violins Ltd. and no longer have any connection with J&A Beare. J&A Beare were for a while running an auction site in tandem with their regular business but it seems to have gone quiet. 

Greg F says the high end violin business is rather seedy, it seems to me to be very like the low end violin business, albeit with higher stakes. It's all to do with disparities in knowledge. I must admit I get more upset at the idea that someone would charge £150 to shoot a fingerboard than that they would take a 10% commission to sell a Strad.

 

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1 hour ago, Mark Neukirchen said:

 All things being equal, I would much rather have hundreds of experts (and players) deciding what an item is worth than only a few. 

Well, if we are talking about an instrument worth over 7 figures, there are only a handful of people who are in a position to determine what such an item is really worth (I mean, to within 100K). There are probably players and collectors who think they know, but they will be relying on the counsel of that same handful of genuine experts. So your transparency is an illusion.

We have to remember that the value of a fine violin is threefold.

1. What is it worth right now as a collectable ie. as an example of the work of a particular maker? Integrity, condition, model and so on ...

2. What is its investment value? Will it increase in value or lose traction? Most people spending a million have other things they could spend the money on! 

3. How does it function as a musical tool?

These are of course all interdependent - when you come to re-sell it, it better score high on all counts.

Maybe there are buyers who are only interested in two of the three - perhaps armchair billionaires who don't care about the sound or very wealthy musicians who must have the sound in spite of advice about the condition. But for most people, acquiring an expensive instrument is a painful and slow process, which involves a great deal of third party consultation, try-outs in various professional musical scenarios, multiple guarantees etc. I find that buyers are extremely cautious and rightly so - for instance it's not unusual to be asked to produce x-rays of fine bows, and trial periods of a month or more are not uncommon. For this reason, it's still very uncommon for "7 figure instruments" to go to auction. When they do fetch a good price (in other words something close to a retail price) they tend to have excellent provenance, maybe a demonstrable recording history, a perfect condition report and good recent certificates.

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