‘Hellier’ Stradivarius violin could fetch up to $11.3 million at auction

The “Hellier” Stradivarius, made in 1679 by the Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari.

Courtesy of Christie’s

Text size

The ‘Hellier’ Stradivarius, made in 1679 by Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari, is expected to fetch between £6 million and £9 million ($7.5 million and $11.3 million) at auction in July at Christie’s London, the auction house announced. Monday.

Made by Stradivari (1644-1737) early in his career, the violin was his first attempt to break the luthier tradition that the great Cremonese luthier Nicolò Amati (1660-1690) had developed, which focused on strict proportions.

Not only did the violin become the model for future violin designs due to its enlarged proportions and enriched tones, but it was also one of a dozen violins out of the approximately 1,100 instruments made by Stradivari during of his career, which are embellished with decoration, says Christie’s.

The instrument features a wooden top silhouette engraved with flowers and vines, and ivory inlays carved or encrusted with nearly 500 ivory diamonds, according to Christie’s.

“This violin embodies, more than most, Stradivari’s vision of getting things done; a reason why he deserves his place at the zenith as the unrivaled luthier of all time,” Florian Leonhard, consultant for Christie’s London, said in a statement on Monday.

Stradivari kept the violin himself for around 50 years before selling it in 1734 for £40 to Samuel Hellier of Wombourne, England, Christie’s said. Hellier was a notable landscape painter, musicologist and High Sheriff of Staffordshire in the mid-18th century.

The violin remained in the Hellier family for nearly two centuries and was therefore known as the “Hellier” Stradivarius. It had other European owners before passing to private American collectors, including the late Henry Hottinger, founder of investment bank Wertheim & Co., according to Christie’s.

Hottinger, who died in 1979, owned one of the best-known collections of rare violins from the mid-20th century.

Christie’s did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the current owner, but said the violin was on loan to the Smithsonian Institution and later to the Museo Civico in Cremona, Italy.

The instrument will be offered as the highlight of the exceptional sale, which offers unique and rare pieces, on July 7 at Christie’s London. It will be visible from June 6 to 15 and from July 2 to 7.