Stradivarius sold for nearly $16M to aid Japan

The Lady Blunt Stradivarius violin, made in 1721, was sold at auction for nearly $16 million on June 20, 2011. The proceeds from the sale will got aid tsunami relief in Japan.

TOKYO - A Japanese music foundation has sold a renowned Stradivarius violin for nearly $16 million at a London auction to raise money for tsunami disaster relief.

The nonprofit Nippon Foundation said Tuesday the proceeds from selling the nearly 300-year-old violin known as the Lady Blunt (after a former owner, Lady Anne Blunt, who was Lord Byron's granddaughter) will go to relief projects in northern Japan.

The instrument was sold by the London-based online auction house Tarisio for £9,808,000 ($15,894,000). The new owner was not identified.

Jason Price, Director of Tarisio, said, the Lady Blunt is, "without doubt the best-preserved Stradivarius to come on the market in 40 years."

The group's music affiliate owned the violin made in 1721 and hardly used.

More on the Lady Blunt violin from Tarisio
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The Nippon Music Foundation bought the violin in 2008 for more than $10 million.

Kazuko Shiomi, President of the Nippon Music Foundation, said that while the violin was important to the Foundation's collection, "the needs of our fellow Japanese people after the March 11 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."

Foundation spokesman Hideo Fukuda said the group plans to use the proceeds to support and promote traditional arts in the region.

The March 11 earthquake and tsunami left more than 23,000 people dead or missing in northeastern Japan and destroyed hundreds of homes, offices and factories.