Stradivarius Violin Up for Auction to Aid Japan Earthquake Victims

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Don Emmert / AFP / Getty Images

To the quake and tsunami-ravaged Japanese, it will be music to their ears.

Today, a symphony of mouse-clicks will help raise millions of dollars as an exceptionally well-preserved Stradivarius violin will be sold in an online auction.

The Lady Blunt violin, which fetched $10m at its last sale in 2008, will be sold online by auction house Tarisio on behalf of the Nippon Music Foundation in Japan to raise money for the Northeastern Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund.

(MORE: Accidental Genius: Why a Stradivarius Sounds So Good)

The Lady Blunt set a record price every time it was sold in the last century, in large part because it has rarely been played in its 290-year history. Its name comes from its 19th century owner, Lady Anne Blunt, an Arabian horse breeder who was the granddaughter of the poet Lord Byron.

Jason Price, director of Tarisio, said in a statement that it is the “Mona Lisa” of violins. “This is a pretty special thing, arguably the best Stradivarius in commercial circulation. It does not get played, which means in 500 years from now we’ll still know what a Stradivari looks like.”

Nippon Foundation president Kazuko Shiomi says the foundation is selling the violin because “the extend of the devestation facing Japan is very serious and we feel everyone and every organistaion should make some sacrifice for those affected by the tragedy.” Over 20,000 people have been reported dead or missing since the March 11 earthqauke.

Bidding for the Lady Blunt will continue until no one has placed a bid for 15 minutes. Then there will be the sweetest sound this violin could make: silence, which will signify the contribution of million of dollars in aid.

PHOTOS: Surviving the Earthquake Aftermath in Japan