Behind the Price Tag: Disparites in Fine Violin Pricing

In this article, we will examine the disparity between auction prices and private sale values of fine violins.

The world of fine violins is a niche market, steeped in centuries of tradition and craftsmanship, making it a fascinating area for investors, musicians, and collectors alike. One intriguing aspect of this market is the disparity between the auction prices and private sale values of these exquisite instruments, with private sale values often significantly higher. This difference can confuse potential buyers, who are often unsure which price accurately reflects the true value of the instrument. This article seeks to clarify this issue by exploring various factors contributing to this disparity, including the nature of auctions, timeframes, and liquidity factors.

The Nature of Auctions

Auctions are public events, often showcasing a wide array of items to a diverse audience. The final price of an auctioned item is determined by the highest bid, which can be influenced by several factors, such as the number of interested buyers present, their willingness to bid, and their knowledge about the item's value.

Violin auctions can sometimes result in lower prices due to their dynamic and unpredictable nature. For instance, potential buyers might not be present at the auction, or they might not be ready or willing to bid at that specific time. Additionally, while some auctions provide detailed provenance and condition reports, not all buyers may have the expertise to evaluate these aspects appropriately, resulting in lower bids.

Timeframes and Liquidity Factors

Auctions are often chosen as a means of sale when sellers need to dispose of an item quickly. The timeframe is usually set, and the item sells on the auction day regardless of the price. This need for a swift transaction can lead to lower prices, as buyers may be aware of the seller's urgency and thus be less inclined to bid higher amounts.

In contrast, private sales usually take place over a more extended period, allowing sellers to wait for the right buyer willing to meet their price. Private sellers are often less pressured to liquidate their assets quickly and can negotiate to achieve the maximum value for their instrument.

Expertise and Discretion in Private Sales

Private sales often involve experienced dealers or brokers who have substantial knowledge about the value of fine violins. These experts can guide the sale, ensuring that the instrument is appropriately priced. Private sales also allow for a more in-depth examination of the instrument, enabling buyers to fully appreciate its quality and provenance, which can result in higher prices.

Moreover, private sales usually offer a more discreet method of transaction, which might appeal to high-end buyers. The confidentiality associated with private sales can attract buyers who are willing to pay a premium for the anonymity and personal attention that such transactions provide.


The disparity between auction prices and private sale values of fine violins is due to various factors, including the nature of auctions, timeframes, and liquidity factors. Potential buyers should be aware of these differences and consider them when deciding on a purchase. Understanding these factors can help buyers navigate the market more effectively and make informed decisions about the true value of a fine violin.

About the Author

MyLuthier was started by two friends while they were studying at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The idea was to provide musicians with exceptional instruments at a price they can afford. We travelled Europe in search for the best contemporary makers and we’re proud of our selection and the partnerships we’ve developed.

Published on
Subscribe for Monthly Updates
Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Explore Fine Antique Instruments
Heritage by MyLuthier

Rare antique instruments, representing both historical significance and unparalleled craftsmanship.

View Instruments
myluthier heritage fine antique instruments