'Beckham of violin' reveals accidental smashing of rare violin

He rose to prominence as a child prodigy and helped pay for his Juilliard studies by working as a fashion model, but concert violinist David Garrett now has a more unfortunate claim to fame — as the musician who smashed his rare violin.

'It was like losing a friend,' says Garrett

He rose to prominence as a child prodigy and helped pay for his Juilliard studies by working as a fashion model, but concert violinist David Garrett now has a more unfortunate claim to fame — as the musician who smashed his rare violin.

David Garrett performs at the Montegrappa award ceremony held in October 2007 in Rome. Late last year, he smashed his rare violin after tumbling down stairs. ((Elisabetta Villa/Getty Images))

On the eve of a Valentine's Day concert in London, the 26-year-old virtuoso — who has been called the "David Beckham of the classical violin" because of his good looks — revealed that after a holiday season performance late last year, he tripped and fell onto his 18th-century violin.

"People said it was as if I'd trodden on a banana skin. I fell down a flight of steps and onto the case," the German-born Garrett told the Evening Standard newspaper.

"When I opened it, the violin was in pieces. I couldn't speak and I couldn't get up. I didn't even know if I was hurt — I didn't care. I've had that violin for eight years. It was like losing a friend."

The instrument, for which Garrett paid $1 million US in 2003, had been made by luthier G.B. Guadagnini, whose father was reportedly a student of the great Antonio Stradivari.

The broken violin, known as San Lorenzo, will be out of commission for at least eight months as restorers attempt to reassemble the pieces. The process is estimated to cost at least £60,000 (about $117,000).

However a spokeswoman said there is no guarantee that the damaged instrument could be repaired at all.

Nevertheless, Garrett's concert of "Love Classics" at London's Barbican Hall on Thursday is safe, after violin dealer J&A Beare arranged to loan him a Stradivarius that was flown in from Milan — reportedly accompanied by a security team to keep an eye on it.

Corrections

  • The violin smashed by David Garrett was made by G.B. Guadagnini, and not Antonio Stradivari, as originally reported.
    Feb 14, 2008 12:18 PM ET