John Lennon Steinway Grand Piano

Music is a universal language that moves the soul and brings people together. It is a form of art that has the power to express emotions and create unforgettable moments. Within the vast world of music, there exists a realm of instruments that are not only musically exquisite but also exorbitantly expensive. These instruments are not simply tools of the trade; they are works of art that have been crafted with precision and passion. From violins to guitars, pianos to drums, these musical treasures have captivated the hearts of collectors and enthusiasts alike. In this article, we will embark on a journey through the realm of luxury and explore the ten most expensive musical instruments that have ever graced the world.

1. The MacDonald Stradivarius Viola

The MacDonald Stradivarius Viola is a true gem among musical instruments. Crafted by the legendary Antonio Stradivari, this viola is one of the only ten intact Stradivarius violas in existence today. Named after one of its 19th-century owners, this exceptional instrument carries a rich history. It was played by the eminent Amadeus Quartet co-founder Peter Schidlof until his death in 1987. In 2014, the MacDonald Viola was put up for auction with a staggering minimum bid of $45 million, making it one of the most expensive musical instruments ever offered for sale. Despite failing to secure a buyer at that time, this unique treasure still awaits its deserving owner.

2. Duport Stradivarius Cello

The Duport Stradivarius Cello is another masterpiece from the workshop of Antonio Stradivari. This cello, crafted in 1711, carries the name of its one-time owner, the renowned 19th-century cellist Jean-Louis Duport. The instrument was purchased by the Nippon Music Foundation, avid collectors of Stradivarius instruments, in 2008 for a cool $20 million. Despite bearing a visible dent, rumored to be caused by Napoleon Bonaparte's boots when Duport allowed him to handle the cello, the Duport Stradivarius Cello stands as a testament to timeless craftsmanship and musical excellence.

3. Vieuxtemps Violin

The Vieuxtemps Guarneri violin, crafted by the renowned Italian artisan Guiseppe Guarneri in 1741, is a pristine piece of musical history. With an age of 275 years, this violin has survived the test of time without any cracks or repairs. It has been played by esteemed violinists such as Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman, and Pinchas Zukerman. In 2012, the Vieuxtemps Violin was purchased by an anonymous owner for $16 million. This generous owner has provided lifetime use of the violin to top-selling classical violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, ensuring that this exquisite instrument continues to produce enchanting melodies.

4. Lady Blunt Stradivarius Violin

The Lady Blunt Stradivarius Violin is one of the best-preserved violins crafted by Antonio Stradivari. This instrument holds a special place in the history of Stradivarius violins. In 2011, after the devastating Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan, the Lady Blunt violin was auctioned for charitable relief. The online sale raised a staggering $15.9 million, nearly five times the amount achieved by any previous Stradivarius violin. The Lady Blunt Violin stands as a symbol of resilience, both in its musical prowess and its ability to contribute to a greater cause.

5. Hammer Stradivarius Violin

The Hammer Stradivarius Violin is a testament to the unparalleled craftsmanship of Antonio Stradivari. Crafted in 1707, during Stradivari's renowned "golden era," this violin is named after its first owner, a 19th-century Swedish collector named Christian Hammer. In 2006, the Hammer Violin shattered the record set by the Lady Tennant Stradivarius Violin, selling for an astonishing $3.54 million after just five minutes of bidding. Its exquisite sound and historical significance make the Hammer Stradivarius Violin a coveted treasure among musicians and collectors alike.

6. John Lennon's Steinway Z Piano

John Lennon, one of the most influential musicians of all time, left an indelible mark on the music industry with his innovative compositions. In addition to his iconic white grand Steinway piano, Lennon had a 1970 Steinway Model Z upright piano on which he composed and recorded his timeless masterpiece, "Imagine," in 1971. In October 2000, George Michael purchased this worn-out instrument, complete with cigarette burn marks, for a staggering $2.1 million. Michael, echoing the sentiment of "Imagine's" lyrics, sent the piano on tour to sites of violent tragedies, using it as a symbol of hope and unity.

7. The Lady of Tennant Stradivarius

Antonio Stradivari, the legendary Italian luthier, crafted some of the most exceptional violins in history. The Lady of Tennant-Lafont Stradivarius, made in 1699, stands as a testament to Stradivari's unparalleled skill and artistry. This violin was originally gifted to a Scottish millionaire's wife, an amateur violinist, before being sold at Christie's for a record-breaking $2.03 million in April 2005. Since then, it has been loaned to numerous modern violin luminaries, showcasing its unmatched elegance and musical prowess.

8. Eric Clapton's Fender Stratocaster

Eric Clapton, a true guitar virtuoso, has left an indelible mark on the world of music with his soulful playing and timeless compositions. Among his collection of guitars, one stands out as a true treasure: Blackie. Constructed using a combination of a '56 Stratocaster body, a '57 neck, and pickups from another instrument, Blackie became Clapton's favorite guitar both in the studio and on stage. In 2004, Clapton sold Blackie at Christie's for an impressive $959,500, using the proceeds to fund his Crossroads rehab center. This iconic guitar is a symbol of Clapton's legendary status and his dedication to helping others.

9. OM-45 Deluxe Acoustic Guitar from C.F. Martin and Company

C.F. Martin and Company, a renowned guitar manufacturer with a history dating back to the mid-1800s, has crafted some of the most beautiful guitars in the world. Among their creations, the OM-45 Deluxe Acoustic Guitar stands out as a melodic work of art. This guitar, part of Martin's Orchestra Model line, is said to be the most beautiful guitar ever made. It was the guitar of choice for Roy Rogers, the legendary American singer and actor. In 2009, an OM-45 Deluxe Acoustic Guitar was auctioned for an astounding $554,500, solidifying its place as one of the most expensive guitars in the world.

10. Gasparo Bertolotti da Salo Viola

Gasparo Bertolotti da Salo, one of the oldest violin makers in history, played a pivotal role in the development of string instruments during the 16th century. His violas, known for their exceptional craftsmanship, are highly sought after by collectors and musicians alike. Today, only about 80 instruments made by Gasparo are still in existence. In April 2010, a Gasparo Bertolotti da Salo Viola was sold at auction for an impressive $542,500, a testament to its historical significance and musical brilliance.

The world of music is filled with treasures, and these ten expensive musical instruments stand at the pinnacle of both musical and monetary value. From the ethereal melodies of the Stradivarius violins to the iconic guitars of legendary musicians, each instrument tells a story of craftsmanship, passion, and the pursuit of perfection. While their prices may be astronomical, their impact on the world of music and their ability to evoke emotions in listeners are truly priceless. These instruments are a testament to the power of music and the enduring legacy of those who have dedicated their lives to its creation.

Up next: The Future of Musical Instruments

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