master violin and viola case maker
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A violin case may be viewed as just a necessary expense. However, no case currently being made today maintains its value as well as one by Dimitri Musafia, meaning that the money used to purchase one hasn't been spent, but invested.
Here are some selected documented sales results of used Musafias:
As you can see from the table above, a rare limited-edition 2010 Salvatore Accardo by Musafia case in used but perfect condition was re-sold two years later for 32% for than the original purchase price, meaning an annual return of 15%!
We cannot guarantee of course that if you commission a Musafia today, tomorrow you can sell it for more than what you paid for it, but the point is that under the right conditions it can indeed happen, and to our knowledge no other case maker can claim this.
A properly-maintained Enigma case, like a contemporary Cremona violin, has been proven to not depreciate at all over time and if kept at least a few years can often be re-sold at it's original purchase price or more. The previously-mentioned Salvatore Accardo by Musafia case, which had a production limited to 250 examples and will never be reproduced, is a particularly sought-after model that if in perfect condition will almost certainly re-sell at it's original purchase price: if you bought a new one while they were still available, you did very well!
This Musafia case, made in 1984 or early 1985, is one of only three made with the interior completely veneered in cherrywood burl. If in perfect condition, this extremely rare case could be re-sold for at least three times the original purchase price of $300!
The Opus cases, each with a unique interior entirely styled and handcrafted personally by Mr. Musafia, tend to appreciate with time even more, as are some of the beautiful one-off cases built to the precise specifications of those who commissioned them. Likewise, those owned by famous artists will one day be sold, like the Hill case once owned by Issac Stern that reportedly sold at auction in 2003 for over $100,000.
There are however investment opportunities also in the lower price range. For example, recently Mr. Musafia created a moderately-priced series of just six cases was made with a highly original octagonal frame which were sold on the discounted page of this website. There is no doubt that one day their rarity will certainly reward those who purchased them, and in the meantime the Musafia workshop is always available to supply replacement parts or complete refurbishments in order to maintain their condition.
One of the only six cases made by Mr. Musafia with an octagonal frame. This example has a Hill-style velvet interior (click on photo to enlarge).
Until recently, violin cases were not an object of collecting. Indeed, not many years ago, perhaps the only case which is truly ascribable with certainty to the Stradivari workshop, the Marquis Crevelli (or Crivelli) case, sold at auction for a mere $600. More recently, a case atttributed to Stradivari sold for a more respectable €7,000 (about $10,000) at the Bongartz Auction in Germany. However if that same case were to be offered today, some experts venture that the going price could now be several times that.
This is one of the earliest cases attributed to the Stradivari workshop, circa 1680 (click on photo to enlarge).
Violin case collecting is thus a new field which presents remarkable opportunity. Books and publications on the subject are beginning to appear, and the figure of the Master Case Maker is becoming better understood and appreciated. As a direct result, the cases of the late Mike Gordge are already commanding prices that they never saw when new, even when only in fair condition. Mr. Musafia himself will personally buy back some of his earlier works from the '80s at up to triple the original purchase price.
Here is a pre-owned Aeternum that sold in 2003 at Skinner Auctioneers' for close to the same price as a new one (and at two and a half times their own high estimate!), while we can report that the owner of a 1997 Master Series in exceptionally good condition refused an offer equivalent to 50% more than it's price when new.
7% annual interest: This extremely well-maintained 2007 Aeternum with designer silk satin interior accents (and numerous safety options) re-sold in 2010 for 20% more than its original purchase price, providing a yearly annual return of almost 7%! (click on photo to enlarge)
To this effect, a registry has been created to record and classify all the existing cases made by Dimitri Musafia, and information will be posted on this website to aid the collector or investor in identifying and classifying those encountered, with information including the year of construction and total examples built.
When the day comes that the very last Musafia case will have been made, and that could be in 30 years - or tomorrow - Mr. Musafia's legacy in redefining the design of violin cases will be thus documented in detail, and it's place in the history of violins and music assured.
Money spent commissioning a Musafia is not spent, it is invested.
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