NEW YORK, May 22 (Reuters) - A Stradivarius violin forgotten in a closet for decades and formerly owned by a reclusive U.S. heiress to a copper fortune could sell for as much as $10 million in a sealed bid auction next month, according to Christie's.
If the 1731 violin, known as "The Kreutzer" after the French concert violinist Rodolphe Kreutzer who once owned it, reaches the top end of its pre-sale estimate it would be one of most expensive musical instruments ever sold.
The violin is one of the highlights of the sale from the estate of Huguette Clark, a reclusive, eccentric heiress 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.
The highest price paid for a Stradivarius violin is $16 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.
"Kreutzer owned and played his namesake Stradivari from about 1795 until his death in 1831," Christie's said in a statement.
The instrument was a present from her parents, copper magnate and politician William A. Clark and his wife Anna, to the then-teenaged Huguette.
The violin will be sold in a special auction with bidding starting on June 6 and will coincide with the New York sale of more than 350 lots from the Clark estate on June 18. (Reporting by Patricia Reaney; Editing by Mary Milliken and Cynthia Osterman)