Violinist Anne Akiko Meyers was recently named "Instrumentalist of the Year" by the Austin Critics' Table, and continues to tour around the globe (You may have met her at our 2010 CD signing party). Meyers typically tours with a 1730 Stradivarius violin called the "Royal Spanish" and a 1697 Stradivarius called the "Molitor," said to have been owned by Napoleon Bonaparte.
Early last year, Anne recorded Bach's Double Violin Concerto on both of her Stradivarius instruments. Then, in late 2012, it was made known that she's been given lifetime use of the "Mona Lisa" of violins - a 1741 Guarneri del Gesu, known as the "ex-Vieuxtemps."
"Historically with all the great [violin] masters it was very commonplace to have a Guarneri and a Strad parked in their cases. Nowadays, the prices of these antique instruments are so astronomical that folks say 'wow! how can you possibly play on two or three of these great instruments?' To put it in crass terms, it's like using different cars." - Anne Akiko Meyers
Just three years ago, the violin was offered for sale for an asking price of $18 million. There weren't any takers, but had it sold the price would have made the "ex-Vieuxtemps" the most valuable instrument of all time.
Skip ahead to 2012, and news broke that J&A Beares Ltd. sold the instrument for an undisclosed sum to an mystery client. That undisclosed sum was reported to have exceeded the earlier world record price for the "Lady Blunt" violin ($15.9 million). So it's pretty clear that Ms. Meyers is now the caretaker of the Most Expensive Instrument On Earth.
Perhaps all of these violins will be known in the future as the "Meyers," or "AAM" Strads/Guarneri. This month Anne is in Phoenix and Nashville performing, and will tour DC, Nevada and Taiwan this spring!