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World Record $1.2 Million Paid For Stradivari Cello

June 23, 1988 GMT

LONDON (AP) _ An anonymous bidder paid $1.2 million for a cello made by Antonio Stradivari about 1698 - a world record auction price for a musical instrument, the Sotheby’s auction house said.

The cello, known as the Cholmondeley after a previous owner, was auctioned Wednesday and the seller also asked to remain anonymous.

The previous record for a musical instrument was $890,000 paid by an anonymous South American in London on March 31 for a violin known as the Marie Hall that was also made by Stradivari, an Italian.

The previous record for a cello was $393,000 paid in 1984 by Robert Cohen, an eminent London cellist, for a Stradivari instrument known as the Bonjour.

Sotheby’s said several people were bidding for the Cholmondeley ″in a relaxed way.″ They said they were not surprised by the price as they had expected the cello to sell for at least $1 million.

They said the buyer might decide at some time to disclose his or her identity.

British cellist Julian Lloyd Webber, younger brother of composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, spent $280,000 in 1986 on a Stradivari cello and was not immediately identified as the purchaser.

″The Cholmondeley (pronounced Chumley) is so well made that it almost plays itself - as if it had cruise control,″ said Adam Watson, the cataloguer of Wednesday’s auction.

The cello has a head by a different maker, Joannnes Florenus Guidantus. The instrument is just over 29 inches long and rich golden-brown in color.

It belonged in the mid-19th century to the Marquess of Cholmondeley. It later went to the United States and was played at the Stradivari memorial concert in 1937 by Ralph Oxman.

″It is a well-known instrument and has been in the hands of several collectors recently,″ said Watson.