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Last Updated: Thursday, 14 February 2008, 09:35 GMT
Rare violin sells for record sum
Concert violinist Chloe Hanslip
Concert violinist Chloe Hanslip gave reporters a brief demonstration
A rare violin has been sold for a record figure, "well in excess" of the previous top price of $3.54m (1.8m) for an instrument sold at auction.

Russian businessman Maxim Viktorov paid an undisclosed sum for the Guarneris violin at a private sale organised by Sotheby's auction house in London.

The instrument was then played in public for the first time in 70 years.

Guarneris violins are considered to be on a par with the more well-known Stradivarius instruments.

Concert violinist Chloe Hanslip played Paganini's 24th Caprice after the sale was finished.

"I was extremely excited when I became aware that this wonderful instrument was up for sale," said Mr Viktorov.

Italian family

He said he would make it available to be played in public regularly, with its first concert appearance in Moscow on 22 March.

The previous owner, Belgian violinist and composer Henri Vieuxtemps, used the 18th century violin as his concert instrument for 15 years.

The auction record for a musical instrument was set in 2006 for a Stradivarius, which fetched $3.54m (1.8m) at Christie's.

The previous auction record for a Guarneri violin was 572,000 at Sotheby's in 1988.

The Guarneris were a family of violin makers in Cremona, Italy in the 17th and 18th centuries.

They are considered to have brought the art of violin making to its peak alongside the Stradivari and Amati families.

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