Item: Guarneri del Gesù violin
Winning Bid: $3.9 million
Even if you don't play the violin, you've probably heard of Antonio Stradivari, the famous Italian craftsman of stringed instruments (or luthier, as such a person is known). But it was Bartolomeo Giuseppe Antonio Guarnieri, the grandson of one of Stradivari's apprentices, whose instrument broke the world record for the highest-priced auction item. The 250-year-old violin one of only 250 Guarnieri instruments that survive was purchased by a Russian lawyer. It was subsequently played for the first time in 70 years by Israeli maestro Pinchas Zukerman during a private concert in Moscow.