Stradivarius violin sold for £9.8m at charity auction
A well-preserved Stradivarius violin has been sold in an online auction for £9.8m ($15.9m) to raise money for disaster relief in Japan.
The violin was made in 1721 and is known as the Lady Blunt after Lord Byron's granddaughter Lady Anne Blunt who owned it for 30 years.
It was sold by a music foundation in Japan for victims of the earthquake and tsunami in March.
The price is more than four times the previous record for a Stradivarius.
Proceeds will go to the Nippon Foundation's Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.
The violin was offered for sale by the Nippon Music Foundation, owner of some of the world's finest Stradivari and Guarneri instruments.
Foundation president Kazuko Shiomi said: "While this violin was very important to our collection, the needs of our fellow Japanese people after the March 11th tragedy have proven that we all need to help, in any way we can.
"The donation will be put to immediate use on the ground in Japan."
London auction house Tarisio, who organised the sale, described the foundation's decision to sell "what is considered the finest violin of their collection" as a "gesture of profound generosity".
The violin is one about 600 instruments made by Italian Antonio Stradivari still in existence.
It has also been owned by several well-known collectors and experts including WE Hill & Son, Jean Baptiste Vuillaume, the Baron Johann Knoop and Sam Bloomfield.
The identity of its new owner has not been revealed.
The Lady Blunt fetched a then-record £84,000 when it was last auctioned at Sotheby's in 1971.