308-year-old Stradivarius violin played on ‘Wizard of Oz’ soundtrack could sell for record £14 million

29 April 2022, 09:32

308-year-old Stradivarius violin played on ‘Wizard of Oz’ could sell for record £14 million (pictured violin is a different Stradivarius)
Violin played on ‘Wizard of Oz’ soundtrack could sell for record £14 million (violin pictured here is a different Stradivarius). Picture: Alamy

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

The prized violin, heard on the soundtracks for several Golden Age Hollywood films, could break a new auction record.

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A 308-year-old Stradivarius violin that was played on The Wizard of Oz (1939) and other Golden Age Hollywood soundtracks, could become the most expensive instrument ever sold at auction.

Made in 1714 by great Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari, it was brought to particular fame more than 200 years later when it opened Judy Garland’s original recording of ‘Over the Rainbow’.

Tipped to sell this summer for £14 million, the instrument could break the existing auction world record of £10 million, set in 2013 by a Vieuxtemps Guarneri violin.

“There has not been a violin like this at auction for decades,” said Carlos Tome, director of auction house Tarisio, which is among the world’s leading venues for fine instruments.

“The expectation for this violin is around £14m million but it could go for even higher,” he added. “It has all the best ingredients for a collector and an investor. It was made by the greatest violin maker in the world during his Golden Period. Its attachment to The Wizard of Oz also brings with it a romanticism which is attractive to so many people.”

Read more: What’s so good about Stradivarius violins?

Violinist Ray Chen compares a $69 violin with a $10m Stradivarius

The violin’s history is made even more special by its previous owner, Russian violinist Toscha Seidel, who owned the beloved instrument for 40 years. Born in 1899 in Odesa (now Ukraine), Seidel is remembered as one of the finest violin virtuosos of the 20th century and once said of the violin “we precisely suit each other”.

Seidel recorded several early Hollywood film scores with it, including ‘Over the Rainbow’ from The Wizard of Oz, Intermezzo, and Melody for Three.

Since Seidel’s death, the violin has been owned by multiple musicians and private collectors. Almost 50 years since its last sale, it has been put up for auction.

“The emotional connection to that story is universal - even if you are not an expert in classical music, you will have grown up with the Wizard of Oz,” Tome added.

“When people understand that this violin was used by the principle solo violinist in that movie, they identify with it immediately.”

Before it lands at the New York-based auction house this June, the violin will be showcased in London, Berlin, Shanghai, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Beijing.