The violin is know as an instrument full of secrets that hide in their wood, their bodies and in their quality of sound. Violin lovers often debate who is the best out of Stradivari and Guarneri, with strong arguments for both cases. Stradivari and Guaeneri are consistently sharing the accolade of makers of the most expensive violin in the world. This list of 15 most expensive violins gives you a better knowledge of this magical instruments that has been inspiring players from the past until today.

1. The Messiah Stradivarius — $20,000,000

Behold The Messiah. Seldom played, this violin lived in Stradivari’s shop until he died in 1737 – which is probably why it’s in mint condition. It takes its name from a remark made by violinist Jean-Delphin Alard, discussing the merits of the unknown instrument with his father-in-law: “Then your violin is like the Messiah: one always expects him but he never appears”.

2. The Vieuxtemps Guarneri — $16,000,000

This Guarneri del Jesu instrument gained its name after being owned by the Belgian 19th century violinist Henri Vieuxtemps. The instrument was later used by Yehudi Menuhin, Itzhak Perlman and Pinchas Zukerman. It recently became the most expensive violin in the world, selling for an estimated $16 million. Its new owner anonymously donated the historic instrument to violinist Anne Akiko Meyers, on loan for the rest of her life.

3. The Lady Blunt — $15,900,000

The violin is named after its first known owner Lady Anne Blunt, daughter of Ada Lovelace, granddaughter of Lord Byron. The Lady Blunt is one of the two best-preserved Stradivarius violins in existence. It has survived, like the Messiah Stradivarius of 1716, in near-original condition since it has resided mostly in the hands of collectors and seen little use.

4. 1743 Carrodus Guarneri — $10,000,000

The Carrodus, a violin made in 1743 by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu, is a gift to Tognetti and the ACO from an Australian benefactor who does not want to be named. One of only 100 made by del Gesu, it has been described as “one of the four or five finest of the finest” violins in the world. An interesting fact about the “Carrodus” is it was made from the same tree as as other Guarnerius violin known as the II Cannone.

5.  1741 Ex-Kochanski Guarneri del Gesù — $10,000,000

Theex-Kochanski“ Guarneri del Gesù, which was owned by the violinist Aaron Rosand for 50 years, was sold to an unidentified Russian billionaire for around 7.3 million euros in 2009. This violin is from 1741 and is one of the best preserved violins of Guarneri violin maker. It was named by its long-time owner, the Polish virtuoso Paul Kochanski, but now it is also referred to as the “ex-Rosand” Guarneri. It has magnificent deep red varnish and is in a wonderful state of preservation.

6.  The Mary Portman — $10,000,000

This violin is made by Guarneri Del Gesu in 1735, the Mary Portman Guarneri Violin gets its name from a lady who resides in London, by the name of the Honourable Mary Isabel Portman, the builder of “The Kranzbach Castle”. Mary was the daughter of a British peer. The Guarneri violin is currently owned by the Arrisons family, who resides in Buffalo. The violin is supposed to worth US$10 million.

7.  The Lord Wilton — $6,000,000

The “Lord Wilton” Guarneri del Gesù was crafted in 1742 in the city of Cremona. It was owned and played by the celebrated violinist Yehudi Menuhin from 1978 to 1999. After Menuhin’s death in 1999, the instrument was sold for $6 million to well-known collector David L. Fulton, the highest price paid for a violin to that date. This violin was played by virtuoso Itzhak Perlman, among others.

8. The La Pucelle Stradivari — $6,000,000

Showing the differences in colour and style among Stradivari’s violins, this 1709 instrument has an ornate tailpiece design, much like the Alard Stradivarius. The carving wasn’t made by Stradivari himself, however: Parisian dealer Jean Baptiste Vuillaume took it apart in the 19th century and added a tailpiece with a carving of Joan of Arc, the virgin warrior known as La Pucelle, from where the violin takes its name.

9. The ex-Szigeti Stradivari — $6,000,000

The expensive violin from Stradivari violin attained a top price of about 4.3 million euros. It is too recognized below the name “ludwig” and its foundation can be traced back to year 1724. It bears the inscription: “Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis faciebat Anno 1724”. Since 1989 she is in possession of the L-Bank Baden Württemberg and is awarded to musicians.  

10. The Dolphin Stradivari — $6,000,000

The “Dolphin” Stradivari from 1714, also belongs on the list of the most valuable violins ever made. It is estimated at 4 million euros and is owned by the Nippon Music Foundation. Currently, it is played by the violinist Akiko Suwanei. It was named the “Dolphin” in the 19th century by George Hart, because the back of the violin, with its shape and its shimmering colour, reminded him of a dolphin.  

11. Il Cannone Guarnerius — $4,000,000

Il Cannone Guarnerius of 1743 is a violin fabricated by Italian luthier Giuseppe Antonio Guarneri of Cremona (1698–1744). The violin received its name from a former owner, the Italian violin virtuoso Niccolò Paganini (1782–1840), because of its power and resonance. The violin got its name Cannone, or its variants, Il Cannone del Gesu, Cannone or Canon from Paganini because of its power and resonance.

12. The Molitor Stradivari — $3,600,000

Thought to have been owned by Napoleon Bonaparte, the violin belonged to 19th century Parisian socialite and arts patron Juliette Récamier until 1804, when it came into the possession of a general in Napoleon’s army, Count Gabriel Jean Joseph Molitor. It bears the label, “Antonius Stradivarius Cremonensis / Faciebat Anno 1697” and is branded to the lower rib, “Curtis Phila.”Albert I. Stern owned the Molitor Stradivarius for 16 years, until 2010. The Molitor Stradivarius was sold through Tarisio Auctions on October 14, 2010, for a record $3.6 million

13. The Hammer Stradivari — $3,540,000

It is named after Christian Hammer, a 19th-century Swedish collector who is its first recorded owner. 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. On 16 May 2006, The Hammer made news when it was sold at Christie’s auction to an anonymous bidder for US$3.54 million, with a pre-auction estimated value of US$1.5 million to 2.5 million.

14. The ex-Ries Stradivari — $3,500,000

The “ex-Ries” Stradivari violin from 1693 has also reached a proud value of about 3.5 million. It is awarded in the possession of Reinhold Würth Music Foundation and since 2008 at the Hungarian musician Jozsef Lendvay who plays it with pride and enthusiasm.

15. The Lady Tennant — $2,032,000

This is an antique violin made by the Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari of Cremona in 1699, one year before the beginning of his so-called ‘golden’ period. On April 22, 2005, the Lady Tennant sold for a record US$2,032,000 at Christie’s auction in New York and was presented on loan to violinist Yang Liu through the auspices of the Stradivari Society of Chicago. In 2009 it was given on loan to Belgian violinist Yossif Ivanov.