A Stradivari violin worth £3.5 million has been saved for the nation. The rare instrument was made in 1709 and is known as the Viotti after its celebrated former owner, the 18th-century Italian violinist Giovanni Battista Viotti. It has been in the UK since 1897, but after the death of its last owner in 2002 there were fears it would be snapped up by a foreign buyer and taken out of the country.
The Royal Academy of Music launched a campaign to save it for the nation and today it was announced that the £3.5 million price tag had been met.
Just over £2 million of the money was raised through public donations and a last-minute grant from the National Art Collections Fund. The remaining amount was met by writing off tax liabilities under the Acceptance in Lieu scheme administered by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council.
The estate of the late owner offered the violin in lieu of inheritance tax. Professor Curtis Price, principal of the Royal Academy of Music, said, 'We are delighted to have secured this important violin for the nation. The Academy's specialised facilities will provide Viotti's Stradivarius with a safe permanent home, while providing opportunities for everyone to see it, hear it, and learn from its extraordinary history.'
The violin was said to be Viotti's favourite instrument and he performed on it until his death. It has had only three owners and is in near-perfect condition.
Violinist and Royal Academy of Music research fellow Peter Sheppard Skaerved played the instrument this week ó only the second time it has been played in 80 years.
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