Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, 1683, the 'Martinelli, Gingold'

Violin: 40473

Back: One-piece cut on the half slab

Top: of medium grain

Ribs: right bottom side not original

Varnish: Light brown, retouched

Length of back: 35.7 cm

Upper bouts: 16.8 cm

Middle bouts: 114 cm

Lower bouts: 21.9 cm


"One of the most esteemed violinist-educators in America, Josef Gingold held the first violin chair in the NBC Symphony Orchestra under Arturo Toscanini and later taught top-notch violinists at Indiana University.

Before his death in 1995, Gingold gave the violin--known as the "Martinelli" -- to his son, George. Three years later, the younger Gingold brought the instrument into the fashionable shop of dealer Rene Morel, on West 54th Street in Manhattan, wondering what it was worth.

Morel, who comes from a long line of highly regarded French violinmakers and restorers, made precise measurements of the violin and pointed out that cosmetic work was needed.

He said the violin sounded sweet but lacked the heft required of a concert violin that might be used in the world's largest auditoriums. Morel added that the violin normally would be worth $800,000, but since it had been owned by the great Josef Gingold, Morel could price it at $1.25 million, according to George Gingold, who provided his version of the deal in a federal court case.

Morel told Gingold that he usually takes a 20 percent commission, but would guarantee $1 million, a price Gingold accepted.

Gingold later ran across a newspaper article reporting that Morel had sold the instrument to the International Violin Competition of Indianapolis for $1.6 million, a 60 percent markup.

Gingold sued. In their defense, Morel and his new partner, Emmanuel Gradoux-Matt, showed that Gingold had signed an agreement to guarantee his cut to be $1 million, no matter the sale price. Gingold disputed the contract.

A federal judge in March rejected a motion by the attorneys for Morel and Gradoux-Matt's firm to dismiss the suit.

The judge cited the more than one-third sales commission, writing that Gingold "could recover under a theory of unjust enrichment" and that "the jury could well find this amount exceeded the reasonable value" of the violin dealer's services.

Soon after, the parties reached an agreement that they will not disclose, though the violin remains in the possession of the Indianapolis group."

Prominent dealer keeps violin seller in dark, Howard Reich & William Gaines, Chicago Tribune, Chicago


from 1890 Captinao Martinelli
in 1903 Sold by Hamma & Co.
from 1903 Lyon & Healy
from 1903 J. E. Greiner
R. Cliff Durant
1921-1924 Albert H. Wallace
from 1924 Jacques Gordon
in 1926 Anonymous
in 1928 Sold by Rudolph Wurlitzer Co.
1928-1946 David Mackie
1946-1995 Josef Gingold
1995-1998 George Gingold
from 1998 International Violin Competition of Indianapolis

Known players

Augustin Hadelich, Barnabás Kelemen, Josef Gingold, Judith Ingolffsson

Certificates & Documents

  • Certificate: Rudolph Wurlitzer Co., Cincinnati, OH (1947)
  • Certificate: Rudolph Wurlitzer Co., New York, NY (1928)
  • Certificate: W. E. Hill & Sons, London (1926)
  • Certificate: Caressa & Français, Paris (1904)
  • Certificate: Hamma & Co., Stuttgart (1903)
  • Certificate: Caressa & Français, Paris (1894)

Cozio holds copies of many certificates and other documents, some of which are available to view on request. Please contact us if you wish to view a particular document. (Note that we do not always have permission to share documents.)



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