- Title: USA/FILE: Japanese music foundation overjoyed by record violin sale
- Date: 24th June 2011
- Summary: NEW YORK CITY, NEW YORK, UNITED STATES (JUNE 23, 2011) (REUTERS) (SOUNDBITE) (Japanese) KAZUKO SHIOMI, PRESIDENT OF THE NIPPON MUSIC FOUNDATION, SAYING: "Because we wanted to do something to help those affected by the disaster, we decided to put the Lady Blunt Stradivarius 1721 on auction. Many people have lost their precious things (from the disaster). So, we decided to put our most valuable item on auction to help them as much as possible."
- Embargoed: 9th July 2011 13:00
- Location: Usa, Japan, United Kingdom
- Country: USA
- Topics: Arts
- Reuters ID: LVA8YZK84BF88ZHVKJC7CCRKIQZR
- Story Text: Kazuki Shiomi is the president of the Nippon Music Foundation which owns some of the world's finest Stradivari and Guarneri instruments. But Shiomi's latest pride and joy is not a new acquisition, but rather a record-breaking sale of one of the collection's finest pieces: a Stradivarius dating back to the 1700s.
The instrument once belonged to the granddaughter of English poet Lord Byron and it sold for a record 9.8 million pounds ($15.9 million) at auction on Monday (June 21) in a charity sale.
The money raised at the auction will go to a relief fund for the victims of the recent earthquake and tsunami in Japan.
"The tsunami, the earthquake and now the nuclear situation in Japan is really drastic and a big disaster and many people lost something which was so precious to them and since so many, not only in Japan, but from overseas, have been helping to support the reconstruction of the areas, we thought that we should also try to pitch in and pledge something that is very special to us, for the recovery of these disaster areas," Shiomi explained, during a Reuters interview in New York.
The auction in London was operated by Tarisio, an online auction house for fine instruments.
"Lady Blunt was produced back in 1721 and it has a beautiful history, or what we call provenance, and it is something so special and in mint condition that someone has to protect it as a global cultural asset and it so happens, by good providence, that the Nippon Music Foundation got a hold of it and we have been treasuring it, since we acquired it," Shiomi said.
And why did the Nippon Music Foundation decide to go with an online auction house, rather than one of the other many reputable auctioneers elsewhere?
"Of course there are major auction houses, but Tarisio is quite unique in having the new style of auctioning, which is the Internet, or net auction, and because of the nature and the purpose of this sale, we wanted lots of people to get the information about this violin," Shiomi explained.
Tarisio said interest among bidders was "massive" and Shiomi explained that the atmosphere during the auction was electric.
"It's interesting, the most important bidders only bid at the last minute, so it started from 6:30 and it continued until about 8:30 and everytime it went up by about a quarter of a million pounds. And we were very, very excited about it and wow, to think that such an enormous amount of money could be placed for the relief of the disaster areas," she said.
The 1721 violin was bought by an anonymous bidder for around four times the previous auction record for a Stradivari violin.
Who the lucky new owner is, is anyone's guess.
"Interestingly enough, the buyer is anonymous, but I understand that he might come out in due course of time," said Shiomi.
The instrument was owned for 30 years by Lady Anne Blunt, Byron's granddaughter. It is one of around 600 violins, violas and cellos by the famed Italian maker Antonio Stradivari still in existence, and among the finest examples.
The last time it was sold publicly was in 1971, when it fetched a then-record 84,000 pounds at Sotheby's.
The Nippon Music Foundation's Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund will donate the money to help care for the more than 150,000 people are still being housed in evacuation centres. More than 13,000 people were confirmed dead and more than 14,300 missing as a result of the natural disaster.
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