The Stradivarius violin is one of the most coveted musical instruments in the world, with pieces fetching millions at auction. A new record may soon be broken, in part because of 1939’s The Wizard of Oz—and that amount is to the tune of $20 million.
The affiliation with the classic film is just one of the reasons the violin is so desirable. Officially known as “da Vinci, Ex-Seidel,” the instrument was crafted in 1714 by Antonio Stradivari and subsequently owned by famed violinist Toscha Seidel [PDF]. It’s survived in excellent condition, making it likely to exceed the previous sales record of $15.9 million set for a Stradivarius in 2011.
Seidel bought the violin in 1924 for $25,000, performing with it for decades in orchestras and on radio, and even acting as a music instructor for Albert Einstein. Seidel also contributed to the score for a number of films, including 1939’s Intermezzo and 1938’s The Great Waltz. Because Seidel was under contract with MGM, the studio behind Oz, it’s widely believed he performed for that film’s score, including for the seminal “Somewhere Over the Rainbow.”
“Antonio Stradivari is the greatest violin maker of all time; it is our tremendous pleasure to present this instrument, whose exquisite voice still speaks to us through many classical recordings and film scores performed by the incomparable Toscha Seidel,” Carlos Tome, Director at the Tarisio auction house, said. “We can only imagine the thrill that this instrument has generated for countless musicians and audiences over the centuries. We are grateful to have the privilege of finding the next owner for this exceptional instrument, and to continue its living legacy.”
Tarisio will offer the da-Vinci, Ex-Seidel on Thursday, June 9, where it’s expected to sell for $16 million to $20 million.