The instrument has been accepted as payment of the owner's inheritance tax through the U.K.'s Acceptance in Lieu program, which allows inheritors to pay their taxes through art objects and artifacts.
Because the violin is worth Ô£3.5 million and the inheritor's tax bill was only Ô£1.4 million, the rest of the instrument's value was raised through donations from organizations and individuals. The National Art Fund provided Ô£150,000.
The "Viotti," with its distinctive tiger-stripe maple wood, gets its name from Giovanni Battista Viotti, who owned it in the 18th century, and is said to be the father of modern violin-playing.
The Royal Academy of Music describes the instrument as "arguably the most important violin in the history of the instrument." It has, according to Gramophone, hardly been played in the last 200 years.
The violin will be displayed at the RAM museum, and is scheduled to be used soon in a performance, under carefully controlled conditions, by Maxim Vengerov.