An unnamed buyer bid $3,544,000 for the instrument yesterday, which Christie's had estimated would fetch between $1.5 to $2.5 million. Another Stradivarius, "The Lady Tennant," sold at Christie's in April 2005 for $2.032 million.
There are only 620 Stradivari thought to exist. "The Hammer" dates to 1700-1720, known as Antonio Stradivari's "golden period," and is "in a wonderful state of preservation," according to Christie's. Instruments from this period are particularly admired by collectors and musicians for both their beauty and superior tonal qualities. The violin's name, "The Hammer," derives from a 19th century Swedish collector called Christian Hammer.
Previous owners have included violinist and collector Bernard Sinsheimer, industrialist Raymond Pitcairn, collector Albert H. Wallace, and businessman Laddie Junkune, who owned it from 1945 to 1992. Recently, the violin has been on loan to violinist Kyoko Takezawa.