`Penny' Strad May Fetch $1.5 Million in Christie's NYC Auction

Other News Materials 4 April 2008 02:39 (UTC +04:00)

(Bloomberg) - A 300-year-old Stradivarius violin, once owned by the first woman to play strings in Britain's Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, may fetch as much as $1.5 million in New York on April 4.

The violin made by Antonio Stradivari of Cremona, Italy, in about 1700 is being sold by the estate of Barbara Penny, who played it as a member of the orchestra, a spokeswoman for Christie's International said. The auctioneer named it ``The Penny'' after her. Penny died last year.

``Any Strad from 1700 is worth $1 million to $3 million,'' said Christophe Landon, a violin maker and New York dealer. ``It's worth that because Stradivari made it.''

Rare violins tend to be bought by collectors, musicians' sponsors or wealthy amateur violinists, dealers said. Christie's set the auction record for a musical instrument in 2006 when another Stradivarius, called ``The Hammer,'' sold for $3.5 million in New York.

Stringed instruments made by Stradivari, who died in 1737, have served as ``a conceptual model'' for violin makers for more than 250 years, according to the Web encyclopedia of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington.

The current turmoil in the financial markets may boost ``The Penny's'' allure, Landon said.

``People are glad to buy violins because they're not subject to currency problems,'' he said. ``You can sell a violin in Europe or Korea -- except they're not very liquid. It could take two or three years.'