An Extremely Rare Violin Sold at Auction for $9.44 Million

An Extremely Rare Violin Sold at New York's Tarisio Auction House for $9.44 million (premium included), on March 16.

Mar 22, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis
An Extremely Rare Violin
The Baltic, made by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù in 1731, which sold for $9.44 million at Tarisio New York. Courtesy of Tarisio.


An extremely rare violin sold at auction for $9.44 million. The violin has its own name – the Baltic. Overall, the auction occurred online on March 16. Even though the estimated value was $10 million, it is still a high price. Also, with this auction, the Baltic violin became the third most expensive musical instrument ever sold at an auction.


An Extremely Rare Violin Smashed Previously Established Sale Record

An Extremely Rare Violin
Courtesy of Tarisio.


The Baltic violin also smashed a record of other Guarneri instruments. It smashed a $3.6 million auction record, previously established. The Tarisio auction house had around 100 instruments, but the Baltic violin was the main piece. Tarisio is one of the key players, when it comes to instrument auctions. With this sale, the auction house managed to collect $11.1 million.


Also, the auction house managed to set 18 new auction records with their valuable music possessions. “The Baltic is more than an exceptional instrument”, said Carlos Tomé, the director and head of sales at Tarisio. “It is a singular work of art“, he added. Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù made the violin in the 18th century, in Italy. Making violins was a family business.


An Extremely Rare Violin
Tarisio’s New York gallery


The del Gesù instruments are among the most famous in the world. Also, they are the most expensive. Many factors influence it: deep sound, as well as wood used in production. Among violinists who performed on stage, while using Guarneri violins, include Isaac Stern, Jascha Heifetz, and Itzhak Perlman.

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The Guarneri Violin is Uncommon to Find

Jason Price, in Tarisio’s display room on West 54th Street


The Baltic was in Sau-Wing Lam’s collection for 50 years, prior to the auction. He is an American businessman known for collecting rare musical instruments. Since he acquired the violin in 1974, it has only been exhibited twice. Both exhibitions took place at the Metropolitan Museum in New York. First one occurred in 1994, and again in 2012.


Dorotha Powers, a classical violinist, owned the Baltic before Sau-Wing Lam. She acquired the Guarneri from the Wurlitzer Corporation in exchange for two Stradivarius violins. It was formerly held by a Baltic family, who were the first to call it the Baltic—and the name stayed. Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesù made a violin using the techniques of his ancestors in his early thirties.


Antonio Stradivari, the more well-known of the two violin makers, was born in 1644, around 50 years before del Gesù. In their native Cremona, Italy, both artisans honed their trade. Yet, only about 150 Guarneri violins are still in existence, making them a considerably more uncommon find than the 600 Stradivarius violins that have survived.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.