A rare Antonio Stradivarius violin, known as the “Lady Blunt” Stradivarius of 1721, has smashed the world record for violin after selling for over Ł9 million at a London auction.

An anonymous buyer at the Tarisio auction house won with his bid of Ł9,808,000 for the 1721 “Lady Blunt” Stradivarius, more than four times the previous auction record for a Stradivari violin.

The exquisite instrument was owned for 30 years by Lady Anne Blunt, granddaughter of the celebrated English poet Lord Byron, and is “in much the same condition as when it left its maker’s hands,” expert W.E. Hill said.

The Lady Blunt Stradivarius of 1792, front

The 'Lady Blunt' Stradivarius of 1721, back

The 'Lady Blunt' bears no neck mortise and the top edge remains uncut. he neck is original and has been re-angled at the heel by J.B. Vuillaume during the "modernization" of the violin sometime around 1864. Both unique features are evidence of careful conservation.

The tailpiece by Jean Baptiste Vuillaume depicting St. Cecil, patron-saint of music.

The tuning pegs by J.B. Vuillaume.

The original label.

Confronted by the tragic events of the 11 March 2011 earthquake, tsunami, and resulting nuclear crisis, The Nippon Music Foundation has made an extraordinary offer to assist in the recovery efforts of their native Japan.

In a gesture of profound generosity they have decided to sell what is considered the finest violin of their collection, the ‘Lady Blunt’ Stradivarius of 1721, and have pledged the entire proceeds of the sale to The Nippon Foundation’s Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

The violin, acquired by the foundation in 2008, was one of 21 string instruments held by the foundation, which loans instruments free of charge to top class musicians around the world.

It is estimated that about 600 violins made by Italian master craftsman Antonio Stradivari are still in existence.

“The Nippon Music Foundation sees the instruments in its care as irreplaceably important,” the group said before the sale.

“However, it has decided that the extremity of the disaster in northeastern Japan is something that overrides such feelings and is therefore selling the instrument to aid the people of that area,” it said.

For more detailed info and photos of the violin,  go to this site.