Christie’s Fine Musical Instruments department boasts a long history of offering exceptional works from the stringed, fretted and wind family of instruments. As the market leader in offering Musical instruments at auction Christie’s consistently produces highly researched sales and catalogs for our clients.
It is perhaps the auction records that speak most significantly to our success in the Musical Instruments field. We have set the world auction record for any musical instrument twice within the last five years, giving us the most up-to-date information on current and active collectors. In May 2006, The Hammer by Antonio Stradivari sold for $3,544,000 achieving the new world record, surpassing The Lady Tennant’s former record by over $1.5 million. We have also set the top five highest prices for instruments by Stradivari. Other record prices have been set by Pietro Giovanni Guarneri, Carlo Antonio Testore, Marino Capicchioni, Antonio de Torres, Gennaro Gagliano, C.F. Martin and Gibson Incorporated and more.
The market for Fine Musical Instruments is extremely buoyant at present. In 2010 alone Christie’s achieved three of the top five prices sold at auction, more than any other auction house or dealer. The results for our April auction were unprecedented, selling 97% of the lots offered many of which far exceeded their presale estimates and more than ten new world auction records were established. Bidding in the spring and autumn 2010 season’s was truly international and there was intense competition for key works by Gasparo Bertolotti da Saló, Giovanni Baptista Guadagnini, Carlo Antonio Testore, Vincenzo Ruggieri, Dominique Peccatte, Jean Pierre Marie Persoit, François Peccatte, Carl Becker, Robert Bouchet, Marcelo Barbero, Arcángel Fernández, Hermann Hauser and C.F. Martin among others.
VIDEO: "The Auction Block" featuring Elizabeth Pitcairn and the Red Mendelssohn
Watch to learn more about the Mendelssohn Stradivari of 1720, that not only inspired the movie The Red Violin, but also set a world auction record at Christie's when it sold in 1990. The price, over £900,000, was more than twice the previous world record and single-handedly recalibrated the auction sales of Stradivari.
This department is currently seeking consignments for its upcoming auction. For a free valuation or more information on consignment opportunities, please contact one of our specialists below.
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A talented guitarist and banjo player with a strong love for American fretted instruments, Kerry Keane has been influential in establishing and growing Christie's presence in the international auction market of fine musical instruments. At Christie’s since 1999, Mr. Keane has sold "The Lady Tennant" violin by Antonio Stradivari, setting the world auction record for a Stradivari sold for $2,032,000 in April 2005. He also achieved the world auction record of $292,000 for an important violin by Nicolo Amati (2001); $459,833 for a fine violin by Giuseppe Guarneri filius Andreae (2002); and $93,210 for a classical guitar by Herman Hauser, Sr. (2003). An expert builder and restorer of string instruments and in the musical instrument trade for more than 30 years, Mr. Keane learned his craft with master guitar builder Augustino Lo Prinzi. He studied at the Violin Making School of America in Salt Lake City and learned Italian violin making techniques in Cremona, Italy. A member of the Violin Society of America, Mr. Keane has lectured widely and lent his expertise to numerous institutions, including the Violin Society of America and The American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers. Since 1995 he has been the primary guest appraiser of musical instruments on the highly popular television program The Antiques Roadshow.