300-Year-Old Stradivarius Stolen From Tasered Concertmaster

Wednesday, 29 Jan 2014 01:02 PM

By Ken Mandel

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A 300-year-old Stradivarius violin worth millions was stolen Monday when thieves tasered Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond after a performance.

Almond was tasered outside Wisconsin Lutheran College. He fell to the ground and dropped the violin case. The pair fled with the instrument to a waiting minivan and took off, WITI-TV reported. 

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"It appears the violin was the primary target of this robbery." Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said.

Described a "Lipinski" model, the instrument was made in 1715 in Cremona, Italy, and contains unique grooves on its back. It had been loaned to Almond for the performance from its unnamed owner. Violins of this kind are valued at $5 to $10 million, Flynn told reporters. The item has been entered into its international art theft database.

"This violin is very valuable, but very valuable to a very small population," Flynn said. "This is not something that can be easily sold for even a fraction of its monetary value."

According to Reuters, the piece is one of about 600 violins, violas and cellos built by Italian Antonio Stradivari that still exist.

In 2010, Korean musician Min-Jin Kym had a 304-year-old Stradivarius stolen from a London restaurant. It was recovered in June 2013 and sold at auction for $2.3 million in December. 

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Another rare Stradivarius violin, once owned by the granddaughter of the English poet Lord Byron, sold for $15.9 million in 2011 to benefit the Japan Earthquake and Tsunami Relief Fund. 

Despite the crime, Milwaukee Orchestra President Mark Niehaus told reporters that such rare instruments should continue to be used because they "need to be played to live on."

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