Stradivarius violin once owned by Kreutzer could fetch $12m: Christie's

HONG KONG (AFP) - A Stradivarius violin kept in a closet for the past 25 years could fetch as much as US$10 million (S$12.5 million) next month, Christie's auction house said on Wednesday, in an auction preview in Hong Kong.

The instrument was once owned by French musician Rodolphe Kreutzer, one of Europe's leading concert violinists in the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and was crafted in 1731 by famed Italian violin maker Antonio Stradivari.

"It's a magnificent instrument, it's a great piece of sculpture," Christie's international specialist head of musical instruments Kerry Keane said.

The instrument was "the one violin that Kreutzer held most special to him and would retain it throughout his life," Christie's added in a statement, describing the violin as "exceptional".

It has belonged to the family of wealthy 19th-century American entrepreneur and politician William Andrews Clark for almost 100 years.

"For the past 25 years, it's lived in a closet," Mr Keane said.

The violin was unveiled at Hong Kong's convention centre as part of Christie's spring sales preview and will go under the hammer in June in New York as part of an auction entitled "An American Dynasty: The Clark Family Treasures".

Hong Kong Philharmonic's concertmaster, Jing Wang, played two pieces by Bach on the prized violin in front of reporters.

"It's a very intimate instrument, it's very warm," he said.

Christie's said the "Kreutzer" is expected to fetch between US$7.5 million and US$10 million.

The record price for a Stradivarius violin is US$16 million, achieved at auction in London in 2011.

A rare Stradivarius viola valued at US$45 million could become the most expensive musical instrument ever sold when it is auctioned by Sotheby's later in June.

Other items previewed in Hong Kong for Christie's spring sales included a large Golconda diamond necklace, expected to fetch as much as HK$80 million (S$13 million) and influential Chinese ink painter Xu Beihong's work "Eagle", forecast to sell for up to HK$20 million.