"As a Carlo Bergonzi it is already rare. Add the Paganini factor and ... head of musical instruments at auction house Sotheby's, told Reuters on Wednesday. ... In 1957 he sold it to an amateur violinist whose daughter is ...
LONDON (Reuters) - A violin created by one of the world's leading makers and once owned by Italian maestro Nicolo Paganini goes to auction next week with an asking price of 500,000 pounds.
Not only is it the first time one of Paganini's cherished instruments has come up for auction, it is one of only 50 surviving violins by master craftsman Carlo Bergonzi of Cremona.
"As a Carlo Bergonzi it is already rare. Add the Paganini factor and it becomes exotic," Tim Ingles, head of musical instruments at auction house Sotheby's, told Reuters on Wednesday.
The violin dates from around 1720 when Bergonzi was in his late 30s and already a powerful name in his own right, ranking third behind the towering Cremonese makers Josef Guarneri and Antonio Stradivari.
It is not known when Paganini -- whose virtuoso playing made people believe he had struck a deal with the devil -- acquired the instrument.
But it is known to have been among the 20 violins, including 10 Stradivaris, passed to his son Achille on Paganini's death in 1840 and certified as a Bergonzi in 1870 by French dealer and violin-maker Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume.
It changed hands several times over the ensuing 80 years before ending up with John Corrigliano, who was concert master of the New York Philharmonic orchestra from 1943 to 1966.
In 1957 he sold it to an amateur violinist whose daughter is offering it for sale on November 1 -- the first time a Bergonzi has come to auction since 1984 when another of his instruments fetched 120,000 pounds.
Ingles said the current example was not in perfect condition because it had been played, which could detract from its sale price potential.
"It is a players' instrument, and I would expect it to be played by or on behalf of whoever acquires it next Tuesday," he said.