Lorin Maazel's Violin Sold for a Record $1 Million

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In turbulent economic times, rare instruments are said to be among the more stable of investments, showing very little correlation with indexes like the S&P 500. One 2009 study in the journal Pensions suggested that high-end violins are far less volatile than art during downturns.

The latest evidence came on Thursday when Lorin Maazel’s 1783 Guadagnini violin was sold in an online auction for $1.08 million, a new auction record. The proceeds of the sale – to anonymous buyers from Japan – will fund a young artist development program at the Castleton Festival in Virginia, which Maazel launched in 2009.

Owned by Maazel for 66 years, the violin by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini has been featured in a number of his recordings and in concerts. “I loved playing it because it had a delicacy and subtlety to the timbre that appealed to me greatly," said the conductor and sometime violinist in a video.

The instrument was sold by the London-based online auction house Tarisio, which in June sold the “Lady Blunt” Stradivarius of 1721 for $15.9 million, a new world record for any musical instrument sold at auction. Instruments that sell over $1 million are generally considered to be in the top echelon of the market, with just around 500 in the world.