Stolen Stradivarius Violin Worth Millions Recovered

Sat, 02/08/2014 - 01:00

A rare Stradivarius violin valued at $5 million that was stolen from a concert violinist in Milwaukee two weeks ago has been recovered, undamaged.

The Lipinski Strad, as it is called after one of its early owners, is one of roughly 650 violins, violas and cellos still in existence that were built by famed Italian artisan Antonio Stradivari, the world's most celebrated violin maker. Born in 1644 in Cremona, where he made violins, harps, guitars, violas and cellos, Stradivari is thought to have made more than 1,100 instruments during his lifetime. The stolen violin was made in 1715, and can be  identified by unique striations on its back.

At a news conference at Milwaukee Police Headquarters, Police Chief Edward Flynn said authorities discovered the instrument inside a suitcase in the attic of a home, whose owner had been asked to keep it there, unaware of what was inside. The recovery of the violin came after the arrest of three suspects, one of whom appears to have a history of stealing art in Milwaukee.

“This individual has done fairly high-end art theft in the past, and the last time his plan was to keep it in a safe place for a number of years and then bring it out of hiding and do something with it,” the police chief said. “So theoretically it’s plausible that might have been his plan here: to keep it off the market and out of sight for a number of years.”

The prized Stradivarius was stolen from the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Frank Almond, as he left a chamber concert performance on Jan. 27. When he reached his car, someone attacked him with a stun gun, grabbed the instrument and drove off in a minivan.

The 300-year-old instrument was being kept in a secure place at the city's police headquarters and will be returned soon to its anonymous owner, who had given the violin to the concertmaster on permanent loan. Almond said in a statement he looked forward to having it back as soon as possible.

Intrigued about the history of the Stradivarius? Read our feature here.