The Costliest Musical Instruments of All Time

One of the most entertaining things is seeing the monetary value of art, first-edition books, and especially musical instruments. The costliest musical instruments of all time have a prodigious history because of who played or made them.

Imagine a Steinway Z Piano

Most of these instruments are costly due to their remarkable condition, but you cannot say the same about a certain Steinway Z piano. This piano has chipped wood, shoddy strings, and cigarette burns, so you’d think no one in their right mind would spend over $2 million to possess it.

However, when it was the instrument used to write one of the most iconic songs of the twentieth century, you’ll have to pay a pretty penny. The late John Lennon wrote.

“Imagine” on this flawed piano, proving the condition doesn’t mean nearly as much as its cultural significance.

Clapton & “Blackie”

Guitars are among the most popular instruments for aspiring musicians because they are relatively inexpensive. Rarely do we see a guitar cost as much as some houses, but “Blackie” is the one exception. This custom-made Fender Stratocaster belonged to one of the greatest axmen, Eric Clapton.

Blackie consists of a 1956 Stratocaster coupled to a 1957 Stratocaster neck. It’s genuinely a one-of-a-kind instrument that Clapton relied on for the stage and studio recordings. Nearly 20 years ago, Clapton bid farewell to his prized possession in an auction for his Crossroads rehab center with a winning bid of $959,500.

“Lady Blunt”

Lennon’s piano and Clapton’s guitar are child’s plays compared to the final three instruments on our list. The only way you can play one of Antonio Stradivari’s famed string instruments, such as the “Lady Blunt,” is to create a copy with a 3D printer.

Stradivari’s 1712 violin sold for an astounding $15.9 million at a charity auction for the victims of the horrific 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami. Unlike Lennon’s piano, this violin retains most of its value because of its pristine condition. It’s understood that his Lady Blunt is the most well-preserved string instrument in the world today.

Dupont Stradivarius Cello

Stradivari would be happy to know that his violin isn’t the only mark he left on music. The Dupont Stradivarius cello is another esteemed piece valued at $20 million. Compared to Lady Blunt, this cello had seen better days, considering Napoleon—yes, that Napoleon—put a dent in it when he played it in 1812.

Initially made for King Louis XIV’s doctor, Francois Chicoyneau, in 1711, the cello has had many owners over its three centuries of life, eventually landing at the Nippon Music Foundation.

MacDonald Stradivarius Viola

If anyone reading this has $45 million burning a hole in their pocket, you can bring home a piece of music history with the MacDonald Stradivarius viola. The hefty price tag is due to only 10 of these existing, leading to the $45 million asking price at a 2014 auction. The price hasn’t lowered, and no interested buyers have come forward; thus, they are staying with the fine art folks at Sotheby’s.

The costliest musical instruments of all time all have a story behind them that makes them invaluable. It’s difficult to fathom if there are any instruments played by musicians today that will have an impact 300 years later, and we can only assume that these instruments will be even more expensive.

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