Benito Mussolini’s violin will be auctioned by Bonhams London next month.
Bonhams London will auction fascist dictator Benito Mussolini’s violin on May 12, with an expected sale price of $250,000.
The 300-year-old instrument is of noteworthy provenance, having been crafted by Italian Girolamo Hieronymus Amati in the 1700s. Amati’s father taught Stradivarius and his grandfather is often accredited with the invention of the violin in the early 16th Century.
The Italian politician, journalist and leader of the National Fascist Party ruled Italy as Prime Minister from 1922 to 1925, after which time he established a legal dictatorship. After the Allied invasion of Italy he was ousted, captured and executed. He apparently owned the violin in the years prior to World War II and was said to be a skilled musician who often gave public performances with his son Romano.
Following World War II, the violin passed through the hands of several private collectors. “Amati violins are keenly sought after for the quality of their craftsmanship and the beauty of their sound,” said Philip Scott, Bonhams’ Director of Musical Instruments. “It is a little-known fact that Mussolini was a keen violinist … if only he had stuck to music and given up politics.”
The instrument was authenticated by American expert Emil Herrmann in 1955, and will be auctioned along with his illustrated certificate of identification and a photograph of Mussolini playing a violin (although not the one up for sale).
In 2011, a suitcase carried by Mussolini during his 1943 escape from Italy sold for $6325 at Heritage Auctions in Dallas. Given the popularity of such 'bloodstained memorabilia', the violin is expected to sell easily.