Regal find music to Jim's ears

A PENCHANT for antiques has seen former Tamworth man Jim McGovern uncover possible strings of fortune.

Mr McGovern bought a Gasparo da Salò Brescia violin from his friend and fellow antique collector Fernando De Costa about 12 years ago for $2000. It could be worth between $1 million to $20 million or $30 million, he claimed.

RARE FIND: Jim McGovern and his rare violin believed to be from the 1500s. Photos: Geoff O’Neill 120714GOA01

RARE FIND: Jim McGovern and his rare violin believed to be from the 1500s. Photos: Geoff O’Neill 120714GOA01

The ornate instrument is carved with Queen Victoria’s head and, inside the violin, it has 1595 written on it and also it has a plaque with 1859 on it.

Mr McGovern is paying a researcher to find out more about the instrument and to prove whether it’s a replica or not.

“I’ve had a bloke researching the violin for about eight weeks and he has been trying to shoot holes in the thing the whole time, but he believes it’s real,” he said.

“The researcher has found that in 1859 Queen Victoria’s daughter had her firstborn, Kaiser William II, who was to be the first king of Prussia and the researcher believes Queen Victoria had the violin commissioned.

“She had her head ornately carved all over it and her husband, Prince Albert, on the back.

“Apparently, because Queen Victoria wasn’t a very nice lady, she gave that to her daughter’s firstborn who was to take over as the reigning monarch as a subliminal message to say I’m still the reigning monarch and remember what happened in Rome – Nero played the violin while Rome burned.”

Mr McGovern said when royalty gave gifts to other royals, regular people would not have seen it, so it’s possible no one knew it existed.

The violin was bought as part of a lot from a shipping container bought at auction.

He said he wanted to sell the violin now and take his mother on a holiday.

“I’ve got a handful of friends and family I’ll make happy before I make myself happy,” Mr McGovern said.

“I’ve had a few people look at it who think it’s a fake, but I haven’t been able to find anything like it.”

He now wants to look into carbon dating, to prove the age of the instrument, but said he would go halves with the buyer when he found one.

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