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$10m violin donated to orchestra -

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$10m violin donated to orchestra

Reporter: Rebecca Baillie

KERRY O'BRIEN: In an extraordinary gift, akin to donating a Rembrandt to a museum, an anonymous
Australian benefactor has bought a $10 million violin for the Australian Chamber Orchestra's
principal violinist, Richard Tognetti. The rare instrument is just one of a handful of its kind in
the world, and is rumoured to have once been owned by Paganini, considered to be the greatest
violinist of all. Rebecca Baillie reports.

RICHARD TOGNETTI: This astonishing instrument is known as the Carrodus. This is one of the four or
five of the finest of the finest of violins in existence. For most violinists, you're in awe of
just getting close to an instrument like this, let alone having the incredible honour of it being
my voice box.

REBECCA BAILLIE: It's the sweet sound of $10 million. That's how much an anonymous Australian
collector has paid for this 18th century Italian violin, made by Giuseppe Guarneri, or, Del Gesu.

KATHERINE KEMP, AUSTRALIAN CHAMBER ORCHESTRA: It's like he just went at it hammer and tongs with
the chisel and produced this marvellous thing quite roughly.

RICHARD TOGNETTI: It hasn't got the elegance and finesse that are the hallmarks of Stradivarius.
Rather, it's got this impetuousness about it - it's darker, it's richer, it's more like a human

REBECCA BAILLIE: Lead violinist of the Australian Chamber Orchestra Richard Tognetti is one of the
luckiest musicians alive. He's been loaned the instrument by its new owner. But first, he had a
week in which to choose between this instrument and a Stradivarius.

RICHARD TOGNETTI: So we had one of the great Strads in the world side by side with this instrument.
So as soon as I opened the case - yes, it was all true. There was a magical aura to this instrument
and I'm still somewhat dizzy from the whole experience.

REBECCA BAILLIE: While Del Gesu is not as famous as his countryman Antonio Stradivari, his violins
are equally sought after by performers and collectors alike, and are even more rare.

KATHERINE KEMP: Very rare. There's about 100 instruments made by Guarneri Del Gesu. There's about
600 authenticated Strads, so this really is an astonishing thing. It's like somebody giving you the
Mona Lisa.

REBECCA BAILLIE: Katherine Kemp is the Australian Chamber Orchestra's artistic administrator. She
says $10 million may sound like a lot of money, but as an investment it's a sure bet.

KATHERINE KEMP: The market's grown exponentially over the last 40 years. We still have the same
tiny number amount of violins. For example, a Guarneri has probably gone from a five to six figure
some 50 years ago to now where we're definitely looking in the millions.

REBECCA BAILLIE: While Stradivarius and Del Gesu violins are in a league of their own, Richard
Tognetti's own violin, which he purchased nearly 20 years ago, is itself worth more than $300,000.
He says there's no comparison between his own instrument, a Galliano, and the Del Gesu.

RICHARD TOGNETTI: Just to demonstrate the difference in sound, I'll play it.

And then this is the 1743 Del Gesu.

REBECCA BAILLIE: It sounds deeper - how do you define the sound?

RICHARD TOGNETTI: Yeah, it's got more depth in richness and also depth in tonal variety as well.

REBECCA BAILLIE: The ACO's national tour, which begins in Newcastle next week, will be the Del
Gesu's first public performance in more than 50 years, and while the secret of its new home in
Australia is now out, the mystery remains who would give such a thing?

RICHARD TOGNETTI: When this offer was made I was flabbergasted at not only the generosity but the

REBECCA BAILLIE: Everyone of course is going to be asking who is it?


REBECCA BAILLIE: You can't reveal?


KERRY O'BRIEN: And I know you could all pick the difference. Rebecca Baillie with that report.

(c) 2007 ABC