A Historic 316-Year-Old Violin Becomes an NFT

by Madonna

Galaxy Digital Holdings LP has extended a multimillion-dollar loan to Yat Siu, co-founder of Animoca Brands, secured by a tokenized 1708 Stradivarius violin and its non-fungible token (NFT) digital equivalent.

The 1708 “Empress Caterina” Stradivarius violin, named after and once owned by Russian Empress Catherine the Great, was sold by Tarisio at an auction in New York in 2023. Siu purchased it for over $9 million.


Tarisio records show that the violin was initially acquired by the Russian ambassador to Venice for Empress Elisabeth Petrovna, who ruled the Russian Empire from 1741 to 1762. After her death, the violin was inherited by her successor, Catherine the Great. The instrument made its way to New York in 1951 after passing through London and Paris.


Galaxy Digital, through its cybersecurity subsidiary GK8, has created an NFT version of the physical violin. Siu will regain ownership of the violin once the loan is repaid. This marks the first instance of a historic and high-value instrument being used to blend physical and digital assets for investment purposes.


According to NFT News Today, the physical violin will be stored with a Hong Kong-based custodian until its release is authorized by Galaxy Digital and Siu.

“I was thinking about how we can create something special like [the tokenization of physical items] to have broader access,” Siu mentioned in NFT Calendar. “It was also a good way—although it wasn’t required—to get additional liquidity.”

“As a technologist with a background in classical music, this is a very special moment for me,” Siu added in NFT News Today. “The 1708 Empress Caterina Stradivarius violin is the first instrument of such storied origin and illustrious provenance to undergo tokenization. I am thrilled to help trailblaze this new economic model for unique assets while at the same time preserving and sharing not just a very rare and precious instrument, but also a piece of history.”


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