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VIOLIN AUCTION
Lefteris Pitarakis  /  AP
An auction house worker holds a 1707 Antonio Stradivari violin, known as the "Hammer," at Christies in central London in this Feb. 24, 2006 file photo. The rare instrument, made in Cremona, Italy, at the height of Stradivari's golden period, sold for a record $3.54 million at auction in New York on May 16.
updated 5/16/2006 9:48:01 PM ET 2006-05-17T01:48:01

A nearly 300-year-old Stradivarius violin sold Tuesday for more than $3.5 million, shattering the record for the highest amount paid for a musical instrument at auction, Christie’s said.

The instrument, made in 1707 by Italian violinmaker Antonio Stradivari, sold at Christie’s auction house for $3,544,000 after less than five minutes of bidding.

The winning bid, which included the house’s commission, broke a record of $2,032,000 paid for another Stradivarius at Christie’s in April 2005, the auction house said.

The new owner bought the violin anonymously via telephone. Kerry K. Keane, who heads Christie’s department of musical instruments and was the bidder’s proxy, described him as “a gentleman who is international” and a “benefactor and patron of the arts” who loves classical music.

The violin, which had been expected to sell for $1.5 million to $2.5 million, will probably be heard soon on stages worldwide, Keane said, declining to elaborate.

The violin’s former owner, who also wanted to remain anonymous, bought it privately in 1992 from an estate, Keane said, and loaned it to violinists including Kyoko Takezawa, an orchestral soloist, recitalist and recording artist who has performed with many of the world’s top orchestras.

The violin, made in Cremona, Italy, is considered a product of Stradivari’s golden period. Musicians and collectors covet the violins he made from 1700 to 1720 because of their beauty and superior sound, Christie’s said.

A violinist and teacher brought the violin to the United States in 1911. Since then it has had various owners.

It is named The Hammer for Christian Hammer, a 19th-century Swedish collector.

© 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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