dillywilly

Selling an expensive violin

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21 hours ago, martin swan said:

You know, $1M isn't that big a sum - pretty much buys you a Guadagnini.

Sadly true, but a Guadagnini cello would be even a great deal more.  If you consider cellos for a moment, you will reach the million dollar threshhold surprisingly quickly!  

A colleague plays a gorgeous Ruggeri I know for a fact was acquired  (as they sometimes say in the bidness) from Moenning in the mid 80's for < $150K.  It was valued for appraisal a few years back at $1.250 mil, and surely higher today than when that was written.

I used to think it was a shame that all the big name instruments were being bought by national cultural foundations, but at least they have the good sense to loan them out to deserving players.  I mean, who wouldn't want to have a financial stake in the Davidoff cello?

Anyone who thinks Yo-Yo Ma doesn't enhance the value of that instrument, "we have a bed reserved for you by the window."

(and just parenthetically for those who don't know, that instrument is owned by a foundation.  Mr. Ma owns a Montagnana, but mostly plays the Strad in concert.  The Monty is the one that was NOT left in a New York taxi!)

Edited by LeMaster
edited for clarity

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6 hours 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

 

6 hours ago, Greg F. said:

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?

With respect… While some contributing to this discussion may have witnessed instruments selling at auction for 7 figures, how many participating on this thread thus far have purchased or personally sold an instrument for 7 figures?  How ‘bout two? Six? Twelve? 
 
If you have not personally been involved with sales in this range, repeatedly, I believe any fiduciary advice you offer, however well meaning, runs the risk of being by based on incomplete understanding of that market, hearsay, and rumor.

...and this is not your property.

There are different sets of advantages, disadvantages and risks in offering and instrument through the retail or auction settings.  I won’t bore you with a list, but will mention that in some cases it’s appropriate to do so in the public setting, and other times appropriate in the private setting.  Choosing a venue is best determined by the balance of the realities of the instrument, it’s condition, and the owner’s situation.  This is probably best weighed one-on-one with a reliable and responsible professional.

I don’t see ‘transparency” as an obstacle to either venue.  Sales agreements can be structured in a way that ensures the needed transparency pertaining to the sale. Seedy? There are less than upstanding individuals in almost any trade or profession (dealers, auctioneers, driveway pavers, builders, realtors, bankers, barristers, etc.). Careful vetting is important, but I assure you that there are some very competent and trustworthy professionals in the business.

Martin mentioned that he views high-end sales in a similar light as lower end sales… I think I understand the point he’s making (some of the mechanics may be similar, but the stakes are certainly higher)... and in addition controlled exposure vs. over-exposure, the ability to handle trade-ins, the agent’s execution of due-diligence, expertise, experience, accurate and defensible valuation and “reach” in the market are extremely critical factors in the equitable sale of a high-end instrument.

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As usual Jeffrey manages to make all the points I would like to make but better ...!

Just because someone deals in large amounts of money does not necessarily make them dishonest, just as age doesn't necessarily make them honest! Yes, the mechanics of the trade are different at the top end, but there are plenty of crooks grubbing around on Ebay and the wider digital world taking advantage of the lack of transparency and the disparity between their knowledge and that of their victims.

I haven't been involved in 7 figure sales, but I have witnessed a few. In fact trust becomes everything at this level. Yes, we hear about some catastrophic misjudgments of character (Machold comes immediately to mind), but we hear nothing of the many sales of fine instruments that proceed quietly and with happy parties on all sides. One of the main things to be said about the high end market is that it tends to be discreet. It doesn't benefit seller, buyer or intermediary for there to be a public platform and a sale result.

It's easy to mistake exclusiveness for cover-up. It's very much the idea of the times that everything should be out in the open (drain the swamp and so on), yet it turns out that most "accessible platforms" are owned by big players who do their real business in private.

This is a very nuanced and sophisticated market, and "put it into auction" is just bad advice. Unless you want to buy it of course ...

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I guess it would be just about the money for Dilly after all is said and done but when I first read here a few days ago I was thinking only for the betterment of the instrument.  So here's my plan - Davide and Mr. Carlson fly from Cremona to Scotland to meet with Martin.  Then all three fly to where Nathan is.  Then Nathan arranges travel to where Jeffrey and D. Burgess is at.  Somehow Dillywilly makes it with instrument to Mr. Burgess or Jeffrey's place.  

That may be the easy part.  The tough part is finding who Mr./Ms sophiejoshuahillarysarah is going to be to complete the sale.  good luck Dillywilly.

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7 hours ago, Jeffrey Holmes said:

 

With respect… While some contributing to this discussion may have witnessed instruments selling at auction for 7 figures, how many participating on this thread thus far have purchased or personally sold an instrument for 7 figures?  How ‘bout two? Six? Twelve? 
 
If you have not personally been involved with sales in this range, repeatedly, I believe any fiduciary advice you offer, however well meaning, runs the risk of being by based on incomplete understanding of that market, hearsay, and rumor.

...and this is not your property.

There are different sets of advantages, disadvantages and risks in offering and instrument through the retail or auction settings.  I won’t bore you with a list, but will mention that in some cases it’s appropriate to do so in the public setting, and other times appropriate in the private setting.  Choosing a venue is best determined by the balance of the realities of the instrument, it’s condition, and the owner’s situation.  This is probably best weighed one-on-one with a reliable and responsible professional.

I don’t see ‘transparency” as an obstacle to either venue.  Sales agreements can be structured in a way that ensures the needed transparency pertaining to the sale. Seedy? There are less than upstanding individuals in almost any trade or profession (dealers, auctioneers, driveway pavers, builders, realtors, bankers, barristers, etc.). Careful vetting is important, but I assure you that there are some very competent and trustworthy professionals in the business.

Martin mentioned that he views high-end sales in a similar light as lower end sales… I think I understand the point he’s making (some of the mechanics may be similar, but the stakes are certainly higher)... and in addition controlled exposure vs. over-exposure, the ability to handle trade-ins, the agent’s execution of due-diligence, expertise, experience, accurate and defensible valuation and “reach” in the market are extremely critical factors in the equitable sale of a high-end instrument.

I have no doubt that you know better than me.  But this is the internet and we are having a public discussion of the various methods of selling something, which can hopefully air out all the pros, cons, nuances, and whatnots of such sales for the benefit of the OP.  Perhaps this open discussion, even if nearly all the participants have no first hand knowledge of high dollars sales, is beneficial in some way?  Perhaps more beneficial than the numerous private entreaties that the OP has received?

Anyway, I'm finding this discussion interesting and insightful, but will leave it to the experts now.

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1 hour ago, Greg F. said:

I have no doubt that you know better than me.  But this is the internet and we are having a public discussion of the various methods of selling something, which can hopefully air out all the pros, cons, nuances, and whatnots of such sales for the benefit of the OP.  Perhaps this open discussion, even if nearly all the participants have no first hand knowledge of high dollars sales, is beneficial in some way?  Perhaps more beneficial than the numerous private entreaties that the OP has received?

Anyway, I'm finding this discussion interesting and insightful, but will leave it to the experts now.

I completely agree.  The board is an excellent place to discuss, air ideas, ask questions and share experiences.  My point is, that there is difference in presentation of an idea or thought, or sharing of personal experience, to direct recommendation of a course of action (or even a passive one) when one is not aware of these nuances and may not understand the market, nor be aware of the scope of the owner's situation.

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2 hours ago, Greg F. said:

...this is the internet and we are having a public discussion of the various methods of selling something, which can hopefully air out all the pros, cons, nuances, and whatnots of such sales for the benefit of the OP.  Perhaps this open discussion, even if nearly all the participants have no first hand knowledge of high dollars sales, is beneficial in some way?  Perhaps more beneficial than the numerous private entreaties that the OP has received?

Anyway, I'm finding this discussion interesting and insightful, but will leave it to the experts now.

Thank you for your understanding.  The old bromide re too many cooks comes immediately to mind.  Jeffrey is too kind a gentleman to put it this way, but what the OP needs is not a ton of comprehensive advice from well-intentioned but ill-informed amateurs, but the appropriate advice from the acknowledged experts in this particular field, and everyone who's anyone on MN knows who those experts are.   [I'm just a player with a lifetime of experience in high-end violin shops, and thus no "expert" in any sense of the word, however kind]
In the end, of course, if the OP thinks all dealers are scoundrels and scalliwags, he'll make his own decision and be on his own merry way.   At least let us hope it turns out he's happy and secure in the "knowledge" of  his own expertise.

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2 hours ago, Greg F. said:

  Perhaps this open discussion, even if nearly all the participants have no first hand knowledge of high dollars sales, is beneficial in some way?  Perhaps more beneficial than the numerous private entreaties that the OP has received?

 

You seem to be quite vexed by the numerous private entreaties .. someone else mentioned a "feeding frenzy".

So dillywilly, who may or may not have a 7 figure violin, has received 38 private messages. I find nothing surprising in that. Dealers make a living by selling violins, but they don't "feed" unless they sell, and they can't sell unless they secure instruments, either by buying them outright or by getting consignments. It's pretty rare for someone to pop up on a public forum effectively saying they have an 18th century Cremonese violin to sell, but that they don't want to sell it through someone who will take a 25% commission. I think the number of PMs rather speaks to the extraordinary reach of Maestronet - there are a lot of serious professionals here who read even if they don't post, and there is intense competition for any really good instrument. 

Perhaps some of these private messages were like mine - offering some advice, explaining how commissions work, offering to make introductions, but not touting for business (it would be a very bad time for someone from the US to sell in the UK). And perhaps the OP has a better understanding of the business now than before.

We don't deal in 7 figure violins (yet) but we've sold a few 6 figure instruments and the landscape is broadly similar. One quickly gets very cynical about any instrument offered for sale - it makes sense to keep an open mind, but there are very few instruments in any price bracket which I would choose to sell. So if a dealer approaches someone like the OP, this is just the first salvo in a process of mutual checking-out. The seller tends to be shopping around, 99% of the time they have an exaggerated view of what they have, and very often they choose a dealer who talks the talk rather than one who can walk the walk.

The urge to make some money is shared by all parties, and I don't see why that's necessarily a bad thing. If the matter is approached sensibly, everyone can come out of such a deal happy. If there is a weak link (the seller, the buyer, the dealer, the instrument or the certificate), then things will go tits up.

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I'm a bit surprised that, along the whole thread, it wasn't mentioned at all that it might be necessary to verify the attribution of the violin in question. A 1737 italian of 7 figure value can be only a very late Strad or, more probable, a Del Gesu.

Given that the provenance, with Wurlitzer certificate including significant photos and well documented ownership over 100 years, is out of question, there was not only once written here, and is known to everybody who is in the trade or interested in the subject, that there are more than one or two high class instruments which, examined with modern methods , were not made by the maker they were ascribed to for decades,. The last mentioned here was a Del Gesu owned by a famous soloist now attributed to John Lott, what makes a devaluation of ca. 99% (10 millions to 100 K), correct me, if I'm wrong.

IMO, this would be the first thing a responsible and reliable dealer would do, won't he? And it does mean costs, who would be charged for them?

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39 minutes ago, martin swan said:

... If the matter is approached sensibly, everyone can come out of such a deal happy. If there is a weak link (the seller, the buyer, the dealer, the instrument or the certificate), then things will go tits up.

"Tits up" Gotta' love that expression.  Leave it to the witty Brits to understand the proper and effective use of the King's english.B)

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12 minutes ago, Blank face said:

I'm a bit surprised that, along the whole thread, it wasn't mentioned at all that it might be necessary to verify the attribution of the violin in question. A 1737 italian of 7 figure value can be only a very late Strad or, more probable, a Del Gesu.

In fact the possible mis-attribution of the violin has been questioned ever since the thread was initiated 11 days ago.

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5 minutes ago, LeMaster said:

In fact the possible mis-attribution of the violin has been questioned ever since the thread was initiated 11 days ago.

Than I missed that, sorry.

But it wasn't mentioned by the OP, that there was anything done to verify that he's got a real 7 fig. instrument, except the regard of his family history - or did I miss it, too?

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27 minutes ago, Blank face said:

I'm a bit surprised that, along the whole thread, it wasn't mentioned at all that it might be necessary to verify the attribution of the violin in question. A 1737 italian of 7 figure value can be only a very late Strad or, more probable, a Del Gesu.

 

Bergonzi? 

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6 minutes ago, Blank face said:

Than I missed that, sorry.

But it wasn't mentioned by the OP, that there was anything done to verify that he's got a real 7 fig. instrument, except the regard of his family history - or did I miss it, too?

Yes, you missed that too.  He said it had Wurlitzer papers, always played professionally, vetted by a pro violinist in the LAPhil, and has never been altered. Keep in mind that everyone who finds a "Strad" in the attic is "absolutely, positively" convinced it's authentic.  In this particular case, it appears for once the instrument may very well turn out to be what the OP is (obviously!) hoping.

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1 hour ago, martin swan said:

You seem to be quite vexed by the numerous private entreaties ..

I was intending to refrain from anything further, but no, I'm not vexed by such.

Anyway, I hope the OP has a genuine rare violin, that he sells it for a good price and that, understandably, an intermediary makes money as well.  Who's against making money?

Suppose for a moment that this thread started with the OP's question and the only response was "show it to expert X and he'll tell you what to do".  How helpful or useful would that have been?  If it were me I'd be pretty suspicious.  

 

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1 hour ago, LeMaster said:

Yes, you missed that too.  He said it had Wurlitzer papers, always played professionally, vetted by a pro violinist in the LAPhil, and has never been altered. Keep in mind that everyone who finds a "Strad" in the attic is "absolutely, positively" convinced it's authentic.  In this particular case, it appears for once the instrument may very well turn out to be what the OP is (obviously!) hoping.

My point was, that 100 years old Wurlitzer papers might be disproved, maybe if dendro would find a latest ring of 1777. I gave an example.

It's what's called due dilligence to check this. Wasn't the OP told this by one of the dealers he contacted?

BTW, Cappa died 1717.https://tarisio.com/cozio-archive/browse-the-archive/makers/maker/?Maker_ID=1195

Bergonzi possible, but not probable.

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1 hour ago, Blank face said:

BTW, Cappa died 1717.https://tarisio.com/cozio-archive/browse-the-archive/makers/maker/?Maker_ID=1195

Bergonzi possible, but not probable.

You are correct, Sir.  My bad.  I'm always thinking about a gorgeous Cappa cello I once saw for sale at Moenning back in the mid 80's.  I couldn't afford it then, and I still can't afford it today.  
(It was bought by a famous teacher in NY...)

Mea culpa...

 

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2 hours ago, Greg F. said:

 

Suppose for a moment that this thread started with the OP's question and the only response was "show it to expert X and he'll tell you what to do".  How helpful or useful would that have been?  If it were me I'd be pretty suspicious.  

 

Personally, to be clear, I have no problem with the discussion until fiduciary advice was offered (a specific venue was endorsed, and not just by you). Discussing options was appropriate, was interesting, and may have been helpful. Addressing "norms" in the industry is appropriate. etc.  Let's not slam the door closed when lowering our voices slightly will more than do the job. :) 

 

 

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I doubt the original post is anything more than a shill but given the number of PM's it got it certainly confirms the amount of voracious bottom feeders that frequent this site. In the unlikely event that the OP is genuine and thinking of Boston then they should consult Reuning

 

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6 hours ago, LeMaster said:

Thank you for your understanding.  The old bromide re too many cooks comes immediately to mind.  Jeffrey is too kind a gentleman to put it this way, but what the OP needs is not a ton of comprehensive advice from well-intentioned but ill-informed amateurs, but the appropriate advice from the acknowledged experts in this particular field, and everyone who's anyone on MN knows who those experts are.   [I'm just a player with a lifetime of experience in high-end violin shops, and thus no "expert" in any sense of the word, however kind]
In the end, of course, if the OP thinks all dealers are scoundrels and scalliwags, he'll make his own decision and be on his own merry way.   At least let us hope it turns out he's happy and secure in the "knowledge" of  his own expertise.

"...what the OP needs is not a ton of comprehensive advice from well-intentioned but ill-informed amateurs, but the appropriate advice from the acknowledged experts in this particular field, and everyone who's anyone on MN knows who those experts are.   [I'm just a player with a lifetime of experience in high-end violin shops, and thus no "expert" in any sense of the word, however kind]..."

Is this not, then, a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

I must admit that I find it absolutely amazing to be repeatedly chided for suggesting that Tarisio would be a fine and professional method for liquidating the OP’s violin. It’s almost as if it is felt that their staff lacks the experience and expertise to properly handle the sale, or perhaps there could be alternative motives. I’m surprised that Tarisio hasn’t chimed in yet.

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1 hour ago, Mark Neukirchen said:

"...what the OP needs is not a ton of comprehensive advice from well-intentioned but ill-informed amateurs, but the appropriate advice from the acknowledged experts in this particular field, and everyone who's anyone on MN knows who those experts are.   [I'm just a player with a lifetime of experience in high-end violin shops, and thus no "expert" in any sense of the word, however kind]..."

Is this not, then, a case of the pot calling the kettle black?

I must admit that I find it absolutely amazing to be repeatedly chided for suggesting that Tarisio would be a fine and professional method for liquidating the OP’s violin. It’s almost as if it is felt that their staff lacks the experience and expertise to properly handle the sale, or perhaps there could be alternative motives. I’m surprised that Tarisio hasn’t chimed in yet.

#1 - I'm admitting upfront that I don't sell instruments,  I play them.  Most everyone on MN knows this; it's not a state secret.  In the natural course of a professional career spanning a half - century I have of must needs come into contact with a great many high end violin shops, both in Chicago and New York, beginning at Wurlitzer in the very early 70's while I was stationed at West Point. Your analogy sucks (in addition to being plain wrong, and most likely posted with malicious intent.)

#2 - a couple years back I sent Tarisio my French bow for their "experience and expertise" in setting a range of prices I could expect for it at auction.  They responded " $8 - 11 thousand USD."  I sold it a year later via a high end dealer in Chicago for $18,000, which netted me a check for $16,000.  Consider yourself chided once more.

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