Updated: Friday, 27 June 2014 05:36 | By Agence France-Presse

Rare Stradivarius viola fails to sell at auction

A Stradivarius viola considered to be one of the world's finest instruments has failed to sell, auctioneers at Sotheby's said on Thursday.

Rare Stradivarius viola fails to sell at auction

The "Macdonald" Stradivarius viola created in 1719 by Antonio Stradivari, at Sotheby's auction house in Paris on April 15, 2014 - by Bertrand Guay

The minimum asking price was $45 million (33 million euros), reflecting the rarity of the "Macdonald" Stradivarius, one of only ten surviving violas made by the Italian master Antonio Stradivari.

If the viola had sold it would have set a new record for a musical instrument, currently held by the "Lady Blunt" Stradivarius violin, which sold for $15.9 million in 2011.

"At this time the viola has not found a buyer," a spokesman for Sotheby's said. It had been described by the auctioneers as "the greatest viola in existence".

Offers for the instrument were open between April and June 26 in a sealed bid auction, in which interested buyers submit confidential bids, with the highest usually declared the winner.

The last time a Stradivari viola was on the market was 1964, when the Macdonald was sold to its former owner Peter Schidlof, a violist with the highly-regarded Amadeus Quartet.

The "Macdonald", which was made in 1719 during the years considered to be Stradivari's golden period, is named after Godfrey Bosville, the third Baron Macdonald, who bought it in the 1820s.

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