A rare violin "hidden in a closet" at the home of a reclusive US heiress for decades is expected to fetch up to $10 million (£6 million) at auction this week.
The instrument, dating from 1731, was made by Antonio Stradivari, considered the greatest violin-maker of all time, and is one of just 600 in the world.
The violin is one of the highlights of the sale from the estate of Huguette Clark, the eccentric heiress to a copper fortune, who owned sprawling Manhattan apartments and palatial homes but chose to spend her final decades living in a New York hospital where she died in 2011 at the age of 104.
After she died, the violin was found in a closet, where it had been for 25 years.
“Our pre-sale estimate on this is $7.5 million (£4.5 million) to $10 million (£6 million),” Kerry Keane, head musical instrument specialist at Christie's, which is hosting the sealed-bid auction, told NBC.
The violin came into the possession of Ms Clark via her parents, copper magnate and politician William A. Clark and his wife Anna.
“There is a spectacular telegram that her parents sent her in Paris in 1920 that told her...when they were sailing and when they would be arriving in New York, and that her mother had just bought her, quote unquote, the most fabulous violin in the world,” Mr Keane said.
The instrument is known as the Kreutzer Stradivari, after its first-owner, Rodolphe Kreutzer.
“Kreutzer owned and played his namesake Stradivari from about 1795 until his death in 1831,” Christie's said in a statement.
The highest price paid for a Stradivarius violin is $16 million (£9.5 million). A rare viola made by the Italian artisan Antonio Stradivari in 1719 that will be sold by Sotheby's in a sealed bid auction in June is valued at $45 million (£27 million).
Bidding will go on until Thursday 12 June.
Additional reporting by ReutersReuse content