No more than 50 Bergonzi instruments have survived. The violin was sold to Sotheby’s by a European woman who inherited it from her father, who had been an ...
Russian lawyer Maxim Viktorov acquired one of Italian maestro Niccolo Paganini’s violins for a little more than $1 million at a Sotheby’s auction in London on Tuesday.
It is the most expensive musical instrument ever purchased by a Russian at Sotheby’s.
Viktorov paid $1.001 million for the rare 18th-century violin, one of 20 remaining that were once possessed by the 19th-century Italian virtuoso.
Regina Imatdinova, managing director of Moscow-based Violin Art Foundation, said the instrument would make its debut in Russia on Dec. 1.
“It will sound at the Great Hall of the Moscow Conservatory during the [closing of the 3rd annual] Paganini Moscow International Violin Competition,” Imatdinova said.
Viktorov, managing partner at the Legal Intelligence Group law firm, is chairman of the board of trustees of the Violin Art Foundation.
The nonprofit body organizes the annual Paganini competition, which is to commence in Moscow on Nov. 20.
Viktorov was unavailable for immediate comment Wednesday.
“Legal Intelligence Group is his job, while the Violin Art Foundation is his hobby,” Imatdinova said, adding that Viktorov would lend the valuable instrument to the violin competition’s grand prize winner for one year.
Thirty contestants from six countries will compete this year, she said.
Before becoming managing partner at Legal Intelligence Group in 2002, Viktorov also did a stint as vice president of the Russian Fuel Union and banking council secretary for the Moscow region governor’s office in the 1990s, according to his resume, posted on the Legal Intelligence Group’s website.
The lawyer has managed to stay out of the limelight until now, unlike such high-profile investors as billionaire Vladimir Potanin, who donated $1 million in 2002 to keep one of Kazimir Malevich’s “Black Square” paintings in Russia, or oil and metals tycoon Viktor Vekselberg, whose Faberge egg purchase pegged at $100 million made headlines last year.
Russian collectors are becoming serious buyers of Russian art works, but “it is still quite rare for them to purchase valuable musical instruments,” said Tim Ingles, head of the musical instruments department at Sotheby’s.
“This is the first instrument of such value purchased by a Russian collector at Sotheby’s,” Ingles said.
The violin is rare because it was crafted in 1720 by renowned Cremonese violin maker Carlo Bergonzi. No more than 50 Bergonzi instruments have survived.
The violin was sold to Sotheby’s by a European woman who inherited it from her father, who had been an amateur musician in New York in the 1950s.