The Cuypers That Wouldn’t be Auctioned

Het Parool, 2008

By Hanneloes Pen

The American auction house Tarisio Auctions appraised violins, cellos and bows this weekend in Amsterdam for free. Dozens of people attended.

Roland Muller from Bussum comes in with two violins under his arm. He wants to have them evaluated by Jason Price, one of the founders of Tarisio. He takes a violin from the seventies in his hands. “Made by an unknown maker. Very difficult to sell,” Price says right away. He glances into the violin case and sees the silver on a bow shining. “Sorry, I didn’t want to just grab it, but that is a very beautiful German bow,” he says. “If it weren’t damaged right there it would have been worth 800 euros.”

Price always peeks into the case. “Sometimes people claim to have a Stradivarius but that is almost never so. Others come with a 500 euro violin and then in the case there’s suddenly a 5000 euro bow.” The other violin is a Johan Stuber from 1930, made in The Hague. A del Jesu model, worth a few thousand euros. Muller doesn’t want the instrument anymore. He plays cello. ”My father played the violin. He had a thing for old instruments. It’s a bit emotional to get rid of two, but I have another two. And my wife wants a new cello. That’s why I’m here now. Putting up notes at Broekmans & van Poppel doesn’t work.”

Price is appraising in Amsterdam for the second time now. He approaches people calmly and friendly. “There are a lot of beautiful things to be found in Amsterdam. But if people just want to have an instrument appraised and not have it auctioned by us it is no problem.” Jael Kraut has a sporting bag on her arm. Out of the case comes a Cuypers from 1792. “Tell me the story,” says Price, while he looks at the backside of the violin.

Jael: “My father bought this violin for me. The idea was for me to play it, but I’m not a violin player I went to study philosophy.” Price praises the violin and concludes, “Splendid, beautiful; exactly the way it should look. Original etiquette. Some of these have a more beautiful flame but this violin is in a very good condition; we’d be happy to auction it for you.” Jael calls her father, Gustav Kraut, once violinist in the Radio Philharmonic Orchestra. He is 84 and not able to come to Amsterdam himself. If he finds it hard to sell the instrument, what is the use if it is lying in a closet somewhere? “I hope the new owner will be very happy with it.”

Kraut and Price negotiate over the phone. Kraut would like 20 euros more than the minimum amount that Price has in mind for the auction. The deal’s off. Daughter Jael: “My father is not in a hurry, we’ll wait until the market improves.” Then a man steps in with a violin, a Lockey Hill from around 1800 that’s worth around 10 euros. The man, who does not want his name in the paper, tells us the violin belonged to his late wife. Price studies the violin closely and then says, “Excellent condition, this will go very well. We would love to have it. I will take it with me if you are ready for it. The man is startled for a moment. “Is it emotional? Yes and no. I have talked about it with the children. They are not interested, nor are the grandchildren.” Price never asks why people want to sell their instrument. “Usually people have different reasons to sell them,” he says.

Next is Henri Blom from Assendelft and his wife Karin. They have a cello bow with them. Not super-high quality but still good for 300 to 500 euros. Then two cellos are taken out. A German cello, probably from Mittenwald with a value of 1500 to 2200 euros, and a slightly older cello that is possibly of German or Czech origin, but worth less. They decide to sell the instrument with the highest value. “To us it’s more about the emotional value. My sister wants to play the other instrument, because my father always used to play it,” says Karin. Price: “But you can’t play it now. The bridge is missing.” Price, who plays cello himself, does not need to hear the sound of the instrument. “The sound does not add extra value. What I like, somebody else may not.” The couple goes outside with both instruments. They want to talk about having their instrument auctioned in October by Tarisio in London. Price must keep going. The next one is ready to show his violin.

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