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Taiwanese Instrument Collector Shi Wen-Long has Died, Aged 95

The businessman and amateur violinist, who was worth $1.9B, founded the world's largest private instrument collection


The Taiwanese businessman and instrument collector Shi Wen-Long, who was known as the "Father of Acrylic," has passed away at the age of 95.

Born in the Taiwanese city of Tainan in 1928, Shi grew up in poverty. His fortunes changed significantly in 1953, when he set up a rubber and plastics business with the equivalent of $700 in today's currency. In 1960, he founded Chi Mei Corporation, where he was to make his real fortune. The plastics giant later became the world's largest producer of ABS resin, and Shi's net worth rose to $1.9 billion.

An amateur violinist who had taught himself to play as a teenager, Shi later founded the largest and most prominent private collection of fine instruments anywhere in the world. He began by aiming to acquire at least one instrument or bow from all of the major makers — and eventually grew the collection to a total of 1,300 instruments by more than 900 makers.

More than 9,000 musicians have so far benefited from playing on these instruments — at no cost.

Highlights of Shi's collection include the "Ole Bull" Guarneri del Gesù, the "Marie Hall, Viotti" Stradivari, and the "Perkin, Burnford" Bergonzi — as well as one of the first cellos ever made, the "Carlo IX" cello by Andrea Amati.

Our condolences to Mr. Wen-Long's family, friends, and colleagues.

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