In 2011, a Stradivarius violin in pristine condition sold for $15.9 million. And then, in 2014, another Strad went up for auction with a minimum bid of $45 million. That auction failed, but it underscored a trend: The price and prestige of Stradivarius violins keep climbing, driven by the insatiable demand of investors and professional musicians.
But is a Stradivarius really worth that large sum of money? As this primer from Vox suggests, it depends who you ask. In a highly-publicized blind test, professional violinists couldn’t tell the difference between multi-million dollar Strads and more modestly-priced modern violins. On the other hand, some elite violinists swear by the Stradivarius, claiming that the subtle superiority of the instrument only becomes apparent over time, when it’s played over years, not days or months.
That debate will continue. And as it does, the Stradivarius will only get older–and, yes, more fetishized as an historical object that’s considered priceless.