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Ethan Ford Heath

Axelrod "Fendt-Betts-'Strad'" "Viola"

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Hi All,

Just a question regarding the "Strad" viola donated by Axelrod to the Museum of American History. I understand that it is probably spurious, at least in part, and may consist of a top modified from a viol by someone or other, with back and ribs by someone else, and from considerably later. I thought it would be nice to consolidate any and all available information about the instrument's history in a single thread.

What am more interested in, though, is whether anyone has played it, how well it actually works as a viola, and how it might work as a model for new instruments compared to popular models in a similar size, (428mm), e.g. Maggini and da Salo. I am not a purist and I don't care in this context whether it is a real Strad, or that it was perhaps bodged together by some more-or-less anonymous luthier; it may be fraudulent as a Strad, but it is certainly a real one of itself. I have heard a recent report that it plays and sounds like a dream. Granted, that opinion could be due to confirmation bias, but if the instrument *does* work really well, it might be nice to add it to the repertoire of designs that viola makers and players have to choose from. Does anyone know of any professional recordings featuring the instrument? 

Also, if it is generally accepted that it is not a real Strad, why is it in Jost Thöne's big book of Strads?

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4 hours ago, Ethan Ford Heath said:

Hi All,

Just a question regarding the "Strad" viola donated by Axelrod to the Museum of American History. 

Also, if it is generally accepted that it is not a real Strad, why is it in Jost Thöne's big book of Strads?

It is because 

A says B lies and B says C lies and C says A and B are lying. 

And maybe the 'donation' was not really a donation. 

Got it?

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2 hours ago, Andreas Preuss said:

It is because 

A says B lies and B says C lies and C says A and B are lying. 

And maybe the 'donation' was not really a donation. 

Got it?

Thanks for your reply Andreas... OK, I get it. But can you (or anyone) address my main question? How does it play?   :-)

PS, If I ever make it up to Tokyo, do you generally have any violas around I could try?

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58 minutes ago, Ethan Ford Heath said:

Thanks for your reply Andreas... OK, I get it. But can you (or anyone) address my main question? How does it play?   :-)

PS, If I ever make it up to Tokyo, do you generally have any violas around I could try?

I have always some violas of different sizes in my shop. At the moment GBG small size, brothers Amati medium, Andrea Guarneri medium and Storioni large. It's always good for clients to offer a choice. 

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1 hour ago, jacobsaunders said:

It will have to do with donating a Strad to a Museum being (uniquely) tax deductable in the States

Which leads to the donor and museum both highly motivated to seek out the highest appraisal, and the only ones interested in the real value (which will be lower 99.9% of the time) are those not connected to the deal, and the IRS.

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On 11/25/2018 at 9:03 AM, Don Noon said:

Which leads to the donor and museum both highly motivated to seek out the highest appraisal, and the only ones interested in the real value (which will be lower 99.9% of the time) are those not connected to the deal, and the IRS.

Should I offer my appraiser a kick back for an inflated evaluation?

Or should I just try a bunch of appraisers and pick the highest one?

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2 hours ago, Marty Kasprzyk said:

Should I offer my appraiser a kick back for an inflated evaluation?

Or should I just try a bunch of appraisers and pick the highest one?

It depends what you intend to do. The system is, you have a (collude with an) appraiser, value your fiddle for an eye-watering amount, then you donate it to a museum or New Jersey SO (or similar), then you get a tax credit for the amount of the exagerated valuation, then you don’t have to pay any tax on your fish food business, or even get some back. This isn’t possible in other countries, but is a (corrupt) way that the US tax code lets rich people off paying any tax. They just have to jump a few hoops to keep apperances. Hardly surprising that people like Mr. A. oder Herr M. have cottoned on.

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