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Last Updated: Wednesday, 2 November 2005, 09:59 GMT
Rare Paganini violin up for grabs
Paganini's violin
The rare violin was made by Carlo Bergonzi of Cremona
Winners of a prestigious Russian violin competition will get the chance to play an instrument owned by the famed 19th Century virtuoso Nicolo Paganini.

The Moscow-based Violin Art Foundation bought the instrument at Sotheby's in London on Tuesday for 568,000.

The winners of its annual international competition will be given the chance to play the instrument for a year.

Dating from about 1720, it is one of only 50 surviving violins made by the master craftsman Carlo Bergonzi.

The price set a world record for a Bergonzi violin bought at auction.

Paganini is widely considered to be the 19th Century's greatest violinist, while Bergonzi's instruments are regarded as second only to those made by Antonio Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu.

It is not known when Paganini acquired the instrument, but it is known to have been among 20 violins passed to his son Achille when he died in 1840.

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