Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, 1716, the 'Baron Wittgenstein'

Violin: 40142

Back: Two-piece

Ribs: of wood similar to back

Varnish: Dark orange red

Length of back: 35.7 cm

Upper bouts: 16.8 cm

Middle bouts: 10.95 cm

Lower bouts: 20.7 cm

There is 1 additional image in the archive which is not available publicly. Please contact us for more information.


A review of the book, "The House of Wittgenstein: A Family at War" by Alexander Waugh: "In September 1938, Paul managed to flee surreptitiously to Zurich, where the family had been able to transfer much of its fortune into a Swiss trust. There he was also able to arrange for valuable musical instruments, including a Stradivari violin and a Rugieri cello, to be smuggled to him. Bitter negotiations took place among the siblings, both in Zurich and in New York, as the Germans attempted to force them to turn over the family assets in return for granting Mischling (half-breed) status to Hermine and Helene, who remained stuck in Vienna. . . .

Finally, in August 1939, Hitler personally signed the order granting the Wittgensteins Mischling status in exchange for the bulk of the family fortune, estimated to be in the hundreds of millions of US dollars. Paul was allowed to keep 2.3 million Swiss francs (roughly $9 million in 2000 US dollars). Gretl was forced to emigrate to New York. . . ."

A Family Resemblance, Richard Eldridge, The National

"Meanwhile Hitler's Four-Year Plan, an expensive programme of national reconstruction and rearmament, made him thirsty for revenue and in April 1938 he issued a decree that required all citizens of whatever racial origin to declare foreign assets . . .The form that was sent out ot the Jewish population at the beginning of May was an extended version of that which went to the Aryan population and demanded that every Jew provide details of all his or her assets, including those held within the Reich -- pictures, plates, bank credit, buildings, business, photographs and so on. . .

Paul's declaration claims an income of 57,700 Reichsmarks in the year April 1938, and assets of 4,368,625 RM. The form makes interesting reading as it offers a glimpse into his private financial affairs. . .among his possessions were to be found . . . a Stradivari violin of 1716 valued at 30,000 RM and a viola by Antonius and Hieronymus Amati at 10,000 RM. . ."

Phillip's Musical Instruments Auction Catalog, November 8, 1984, London, Phillip's, Phillip's Musical Instruments Auction Catalog, November 8, 1984, London, London

"With the connivance of Dr Heinz Fischer, a Swiss concert promoter, a German string quartet was invited to play in Zurich, bringing Paul's precious instruments from Vienna -- two violins, one by Stradivari, one by Guadagnini, a viola by Amati and a Rugieri cello. Nobody would notice, as they crossed the border at Haslach, that the instruments in their cases were not theirs. Nor would they spot when the musicians returned to the Reich with cheaper models under their arms than those with which they had left. Dr Fischer's and the musicians' payment for this risky undertaking is not known, nor is the fate of the two violins (perhaps the instruments were themselves the smugglers' reward),but in October 1938 Paul took the viola and cello to the Swiss violin maker Stübiger, who valued them at 18,000 Swiss francs each. A quick sale brought him [Paul] temporary financial relief."

The House of Wittgenstein: A Family At War, Alexander Waugh, The House of Wittgenstein: A Family At War, London

During the war, Wittgenstein was not permitted to export his Stradivari and Guadagnini violins, nor a large collection of valuable musical manuscripts and other musical objects. After the war, he negotiated for the export of his 1716 Antonio Stradivari and 1776 Joannes Baptista Guadagnini violins... On August 30, 1950, Otto Demus, President of the BDA, permitted the export of Wittgenstein’s Stradivari and Guadagnini violins, but in exchange for a donation of artwork to the Austrian National Gallery. Wittgenstein imported these two violins into the U.S. and consigned them for sale through New York violin dealer Emil Herrmann in 1950.

Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Report, Carla Shapreau


until 1890 Johann Friedrich Stübiger
1890-1913 Baron Karl Wittgenstein
until 1950 Paul Wittgenstein
in 1950 Sold by Emil Herrmann, New York
John Corigliano
from 1976 State of Bulgaria

Known players

Mintcho Mintchev


  • The National, Richard Eldridge, October 30, 2008
  • Antonius Stradivarius (Volumes I-IV), Jost Thöne, Jan Röhrmann, Alessandra Barabaschi, Jost Thöne Verlag, Cologne, 2010 (illustrated)
  • Austrian Marshall Plan Foundation Report, Carla Shapreau, 2014
  • How Many Strads? (1999 edition), Doring, Bein & Fushi, Bein & Fushi, Chicago, 1999
  • List of Stradivarius instruments - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
  • Phillip's Musical Instruments Auction Catalog, November 8, 1984, London, Phillip's, Phillip's, London
  • The House of Wittgenstein: A Family At War, Alexander Waugh, Bllomsbury, London
  • The Jacques Français Rare Violins, Inc. Photographic Archive and Business Records, 1844-1998, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC (illustrated)
  • Violin Iconography of Antonio Stradivari 1644-1737, Herbert K. Goodkind, Larchmont, NY (illustrated)


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