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The World's Most Expensive Instrument Just Got Slightly Cheaper

US violist David Aaron Carpenter plays the "Macdonald" Stradivarius viola created in 1719 by Antonio Stradivari (1641-1737), at Sotheby's auction house in Paris on April 15, 2014.
US violist David Aaron Carpenter plays the "Macdonald" Stradivarius viola created in 1719 by Antonio Stradivari (1641-1737), at Sotheby's auction house in Paris on April 15, 2014.Photograph by Bertrand Guay/AFP via Getty Images

Q: What do you call the world’s most valuable musical instrument if nobody wants it? A: A viola

In a failure-to-sell that promises to revive the catty, music-nerd viola joke genre, auctioneers Sotheby’s and Ingles & Hayday said that at the close of sealed bidding for the 1719 “Macdonald” viola, nobody had offered the minimum $45 million price. It would have been a world record for an instrument.