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Precious Fiddle: Rare Stradivarius That Belonged To Einstein’s Teacher Fetches USD 15.3 Million At NYC Auction

The violin “played by Toscha Seidel on soundtracks for ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and other legendary Hollywood films” has been sold.

A rare Stradivarius violin that once belonged to Albert Einstein’s teacher has fetched more than 15 million dollars at an auction in New York.

The rare violin, made in Italy in 1714 and dubbed the “Da Vinci, Ex-Seidel” Stradivarius, went under the hammer for 15.34 million dollars at an auction by Tarisio, an auction house specializing in selling fine instruments, on Thursday, June 9.

The rare Stradivari violin has been auctioned in New York for USD 15.3 million, in June, 2022, in New York City, USA. (Tarisio/Zenger)

Tarisio said in a statement that the famed violin was once “played by Toscha Seidel on soundtracks for ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ and other legendary Hollywood films.”

Seidel was a Russian violin virtuoso who was born in Odessa in 1899. He studied in St. Petersburg before emigrating to the United States and then on to Hollywood in the 1930s.

Before working on such hits as the 1939 movie “The Wizard of Oz,” he taught Albert Einstein in 1934.

The violin was crafted in Italy in 1714 by the legendary Antonio Stradivari, the auction house said, adding that “the ‘da Vinci, ex-Seidel’ is among the rare examples of craftsmanship from the maestro’s ‘Golden Period.’

“It has been 15 years since a violin representing the Golden Period has been offered at auction. After three centuries, the concert-ready ‘da Vinci, ex-Seidel’ has retained its original parts, remains in pristine condition, and produces an exquisite sound.”

The rare ‘da Vinci’ violin was acquired by Seidel in the 20th century, which according to Tarisio, was “the concert companion of the celebrated Russian-American virtuoso Toscha Seidel for nearly forty years.”

“Seidel was a protégé of the legendary Leopold Auer, a classmate of Jascha Heifetz,” continued the statement by the auction house, “and is widely considered one of the great violinists of the 20th century. On April 27, 1924, the acquisition of the violin by Seidel made front-page headlines in The New York Times.”

Toscha Seidel with unnamed woman. (Library of Congress/Zenger)

Tarisio added: “Seidel owned the violin for nearly four decades, during which he performed with major orchestras, made numerous orchestral recordings, hosted a popular radio program and served as CBS Network’s musical director.

“He also recorded several early Hollywood film scores with this violin, including The Wizard of Oz (the plaintive “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”), Intermezzo, and Melody for Three, among others. Seidel befriended Albert Einstein, becoming his violin mentor and performing with Einstein in a benefit concert in New York in 1933, to aid German-Jewish scientists fleeing Nazi Germany.

“Later, the violin was part of several important 19th century collections and ultimately was acquired by a Japanese collector.”

Carlos Tome, Director at Tarisio, said: “All of us at Tarisio are deeply honored to be a part of the great history of the ‘da Vinci, Ex-Seidel’ violin through today’s auction and to extend the musical legacy of this incomparable instrument – crafted by Antonio Stradivari, the greatest violin maker of all time.”

He added: “The voice of this violin has pleased audiences for more than 300 years, and we hope it will continue to do so for another 300 years and beyond.”

The statement from Tarisio said that the “auction concluded after a dynamic and competitive bidding process.”

It added: “The final price of the ‘da Vinci, Ex-Seidel’ constitutes the second-highest amount ever paid for a Stradivari violin at auction, following the 2011 record-breaking sale – also by Tarisio – of the ‘Lady Blunt’ Strad violin for 15.9 million dollars.”

The rare Stradivari violin has been auctioned in New York for USD 15.3 million, in June, 2022, in New York City, USA. (Tarisio/Zenger)

Founded in 1999, Tarisio “revolutionized the fine instrument market by bringing efficiencies to global internet bidding combined with unparalleled professionalism and ethics”, according to the auction house itself.

Tarisio currently has offices in New York, London, and Berlin.

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