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Stradivari’s c.1679 ‘Hellier’ violin to be sold at auction


Derek Law
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Nice inlay.  Interesting that this one was originally sold to Hellier (a wealthy English collector) by Strad himself in 1734, for £40 (around  £5000 today), after keeping it in the shop for 55 years, and that no notable musicians are anywhere in the chain of provenance (which might be the best documented Strad provenance that there is).

One wonders what it will bring, as well as how it sounds.  :)

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37 minutes ago, Shelbow said:

Interesting that so many high profile instruments are heading to auction at the moment.

I think the owner of this violin died recently, so the estate may be looking for a quick sale.

Interesting that they choose Christies to sell it.

1 hour ago, Violadamore said:

One wonders what it will bring, as well as how it sounds.  :)

Regardless, it would make a nice wall-hanger.

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7 minutes ago, GeorgeH said:

I think the owner of this violin died recently, so the estate may be looking for a quick sale.

Interesting that they choose Christies to sell it.

Regardless, it would make a nice wall-hanger.

Ah I see, thanks for the info.

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2 minutes ago, Shelbow said:

Martin are you going to play this one and add it to your list? I would be curious to know your thoughts,

I would jump at the chance, but these days I'm a bit circumspect about sharing my opinions.

I suppose everyone knows that not all Strads are heavenly, but so far I have never found one to be "horrible".  Even the Strads that seem underwhelming are only underwhelming until you pit them against the violin you thought might be better - it never is!

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43 minutes ago, Violadamore said:

Nice inlay.  Interesting that this one was originally sold to Hellier (a wealthy English collector) by Strad himself in 1734, for £40 (around  £5000 today), after keeping it in the shop for 55 years, and that no notable musicians are anywhere in the chain of provenance (which might be the best documented Strad provenance that there is).

One wonders what it will bring, as well as how it sounds.  :)

I am always shocked by how much inventory the Strad shop carries. Carrying an item for 55 years?

I recall reading something about Paolo Strad had something like 90 instruments he inherited ... assuming the shop makes 25 instruments a year, that is still >3 years' worth of inventory. Cash flow is really quite impossible for a "small" business at that level of inventory.

If all these are true, the Strad shop is really a nasty competitor which uses its wealth / cash to overproduce to crowd out competition like the poor Giuseppes down the street. From a customer perspectives, a servant of the court came to town in Cremona to buy instruments, so either you pick from a 3-4 years' worth of Strad shop's inventory, or you commission from the Guarneri shop and wait a month ... hmm ...  

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2 hours ago, Derek Law said:

I am always shocked by how much inventory the Strad shop carries. Carrying an item for 55 years?

I recall reading something about Paolo Strad had something like 90 instruments he inherited ... assuming the shop makes 25 instruments a year, that is still >3 years' worth of inventory. Cash flow is really quite impossible for a "small" business at that level of inventory.

If all these are true, the Strad shop is really a nasty competitor which uses its wealth / cash to overproduce to crowd out competition like the poor Giuseppes down the street. From a customer perspectives, a servant of the court came to town in Cremona to buy instruments, so either you pick from a 3-4 years' worth of Strad shop's inventory, or you commission from the Guarneri shop and wait a month ... hmm ...  

This is hedge- fund talk. If one were to discuss the dynamics of the life of one who has an impact over the centuries...

So much happening here at once. 

   

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1 hour ago, Michael Appleman said:

I played the Greffuhle and the Spanish, back in the 1970's and the 1980's. Both struck me as excellent at the time.

Glad to hear it - it would seem strange to lavish so much extra attention on a violin that wasn't going to be up to scratch tonally 

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The Greffuhle 1709 seems to have the general dimensions of the PG form (357mm LOB according to the Sotheby's "4 centuries" book; Tarisio database has its LB at 207.5).

Hellier is kind of odd, even bigger, Tarisio database gives LB of 210mm. The article on the Strad magazine on Stad molds (2-3 years ago?) had the Hellier as an "Amatise" form, I guess meant to be patterned like a N. Amati Grand Pattern (?).  

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Thank you.

As these iconic instruments come to auction over my lifetime, it's an opportunity to re- examine them and other associated instruments. Have a look at legends. Not like watching Joe Theisman on a Sunday afternoon on ESPN, who was great, but to recall the myths. The half truths.

I stopped reading the newest Strads the past few years ( certainly since the pandemic ) and instead started ( re- ) reading older journals. I notice that the reading was somehow more exciting back then. It's easy for me to get stuck in the 90s as it was an era of transition. I found an auction update in an older Strad that listed one of my "winners" which is still owned. Not so notable, except that I never read it, never noticed the comments. Now a much older man, had I noticed, the instrument might have been sold.

My excitement is that there are individuals, still interested in instruments. The Hellier might be an instrument to visit. Like Halley's it comes around once in awhile. But what amazes me now, is that the current proximity is across wires and silicon and quite clear. Not a defuse cotton ball in a semi- black sky. No need to breathe on it or turn its pegs. 

Mr Law's response triggered the thought that those interested, still exist. And am grateful.

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Hmmm that's a tough one. With the Seidel Strad you have not just a great golden period Strad but also an instrument that is sought after by superstar violinists. I bet Josh Bell, Kavakos, etc were thinking should I sell mine and buy this one. For those reasons I doubt the early decorated Strad will reach 15mil.

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1 hour ago, germain said:

Hmmm that's a tough one. With the Seidel Strad you have not just a great golden period Strad but also an instrument that is sought after by superstar violinists. I bet Josh Bell, Kavakos, etc were thinking should I sell mine and buy this one. For those reasons I doubt the early decorated Strad will reach 15mil.

There was no evidence of widespread serious interest, nor of any sort of mad scramble for the violin driving the price up.  IMHO, the exact opposite happened.  The opening bid of $8M was too high to attract many bidders, and from start to finish there were only two bidders involved.  Aside from the opening bid, there were no other bids until the end of the scheduled auction, when a second bidder appeared, and the same two people kept driving the price up through five fifteen-minute extensions, until the second bidder gave up (if this had been a "dollar" auction on eBay that got dragged up to $15000, one can well imagine what catty speculations that The Auction Scroll regulars would be posting right now :lol:).  I would not be dreadfully surprised if what we just all witnessed was driven by the personalities involved, rather than by any sort of business decision.

It looks to me that something like this cannot be predicted, and I hesitate to guess at how high the Hellier auction may go. Given the different nature of the instrument as well as the venue used, I'd expect that the art community might be more involved than the usual violin community suspects, adding to the uncertainty..  :)

What if everyone showed up for the munchies and see-and-be-seen, and nobody bids at all?  :ph34r:  :lol:

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2 hours ago, Violadamore said:

There was no evidence of widespread serious interest, nor of any sort of mad scramble for the violin driving the price up.  IMHO, the exact opposite happened.  The opening bid of $8M was too high to attract many bidders, and from start to finish there were only two bidders involved.  Aside from the opening bid, there were no other bids until the end of the scheduled auction, when a second bidder appeared, and the same two people kept driving the price up through five fifteen-minute extensions, until the second bidder gave up (if this had been a "dollar" auction on eBay that got dragged up to $15000, one can well imagine what catty speculations that The Auction Scroll regulars would be posting right now :lol:).  I would not be dreadfully surprised if what we just all witnessed was driven by the personalities involved, rather than by any sort of business decision.

It looks to me that something like this cannot be predicted, and I hesitate to guess at how high the Hellier auction may go. Given the different nature of the instrument as well as the venue used, I'd expect that the art community might be more involved than the usual violin community suspects, adding to the uncertainty..  :)

What if everyone showed up for the munchies and see-and-be-seen, and nobody bids at all?  :ph34r:  :lol:

Sounds like what use to call a good old fashion pissing contest! And had it been Ebay there would be speculation that one of those two bidders was the seller ( i'm just saying)!

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7 minutes ago, Schwartzinc said:

Sounds like what use to call a good old fashion pissing contest! And had it been Ebay there would be speculation that one of those two bidders was the seller ( i'm just saying)!

I wondered about this exact same thing for the auction we just saw

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