The Italian Almanac


Italian News - May 17

An anonymous buyer shelled out 3.54 million dollars for a Stradivarius violin known as the "Hammer", smashing the previous world record for a musical instrument sold at auction, Christie's said. The earlier record was held by another Stradivarius, nicknamed "The Lady Tennant", which sold for 2.03 million dollars in April 2005 at Christie's New York.

The new record-breaker gets its nickname from Christian Hammer, an 18th century Swedish collector. It had been expected to fetch 1.5 million to 2.5 million dollars when it went on the block Tuesday. The violin was made by luthier Antonio Stradivari in 1707, during a period seen as the golden age for his "Strads", 1700-1720. Privately owned, it was used by the New York-based violinist Kyoko Takezawa.

Stradivari worked in Cremona, Italy, making harps and guitars as well as violins until he died in 1737. He is believed to have made more than 1,100 instruments, of which some 650 have been preserved.