May 23, 2014 / 12:30 PM / 4 years ago

Stradivarius violin owned by reclusive U.S. heiress could sell for $10 million

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A Stradivarius violin forgotten in a closet for decades and formerly owned by a reclusive U.S. heiress to a copper fortune could sell for as much as $10 million in a sealed bid auction next month, according to Christie’s.

Kerry Keane, Christie's Musical Instruments specialist, poses for a photograph with the Kreutzer Stradivarius violin in London May 9, 2014. REUTERS/Toby Melville

If the 1731 violin, known as “The Kreutzer” after the French concert violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer who once owned it, reaches the top end of its pre-sale estimate it would be one of most expensive musical instruments ever sold.

The violin is one of the highlights of the sale from the estate of Huguette Clark, a reclusive, eccentric heiress who owned sprawling Manhattan apartments and palatial homes but chose to spend her final decades living in a New York hospital where she died in 2011 at the age of 104.

After she died, the violin was found in a closet, where it had been for 25 years.

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The highest price paid for a Stradivarius violin is $16 million. A rare viola made by the Italian artisan Antonio Stradivari in 1719 that will be sold by Sotheby’s in a sealed bid auction in June is valued at $45 million.

“Kreutzer owned and played his namesake Stradivari from about 1795 until his death in 1831,” Christie’s said in a statement.

The instrument was a present from her parents, copper magnate and politician William A. Clark and his wife Anna, to the then-teenaged Huguette.

The violin will be sold in a special auction with bidding starting on June 6 and will coincide with the New York sale of more than 350 lots from the Clark estate on June 18.

Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Mary Milliken and Cynthia Osterman

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