Showing posts with label Stradivarius violin. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Stradivarius violin. Show all posts

August 7, 2015

Ames Stradivarius owned by Roman Totenberg Recovered 35 years after theft


by Judge Arthur Tompkins

The New York Times reported August 6 (http://www.nytimes.com/2015/08/07/arts/music/roman-totenbergs-stolen-stradivarius-is-found-after-35-years.html) that a Stradivarius violin stolen back in 1980 was recovered in June this year, and has been returned to the family of the original owner.

The Ames Stradivarius recovered by the F.B.I. in June.
(Credit Federal Bureau of Investigation, via Associated Press)


The ‘Ames Stradivarius’ was created by the legendary Italian violin-maker Antonio  Stradivarius in 1734. By 1980 it had been owned and played by Roman Totenberg, a well-known violin player and teacher, and director of the Longy School of Music in Cambridge, Mass., for nearly 40 years.  At the time of the theft, which happened during a reception following a concert, the violin was said to be valued at $250,000.

Saratoga Herald-Tribune, Friday May 16, 1980, page 5-A.
Michael Cooper reported in The NYT that the violin re-appeared earlier this year after an unnamed woman, who recounted that she had inherited the violin from her late ex-husband, sought advice from an appraiser. The appraiser immediately recognised both that it was a genuine Stradivarius, and that it was the stolen Ames Stradivarius.  The appraiser contacted the FBI’s Art Theft team, who immediately verified the identity of the instrument and took possession of it.

As noted in The NYT, it seems that the now deceased ex-husband was suspected of the theft by Mr Totenberg (who died in 2012) right from the start:
Ms. Totenberg [Roman Totenberg’s daughter] said that the woman had inherited the violin from the man Ms. Totenberg’s father had suspected all along of stealing the instrument. The man had been seen in the vicinity of his office at Longy near the time of the theft, and a woman once visited Mr. Totenberg and told him that she believed that the man had stolen his violin. But to the family’s frustration, investigators at the time apparently did not believe that the tip was sufficient for them to obtain a search warrant.
The family had received an insurance pay-out at the time of the theft. That has now been repaid, and the instrument will be restored and sold:
“[The family are] going to make sure that it’s in the hands of another great artist who will play it in concert halls all over the world,” she said. “All of us feel very strongly that the voice has been stilled for too long.”

February 6, 2014

Lipinski Stradivarius Theft, Milwaukee: Local television station WTMJ-4 breaks the story that Police Found Violin

WTMJ-4, Milwaukee's local television station, reported this morning "Police recover stolen Stradivarius violin":

CREATED 6:03 AM
MILWAUKEE -- Milwaukee police have recovered the rare Stradivarius violin that was stolen from Concertmaster Frank Almond on Jan. 27, multiple sources tell TODAY'S TMJ4's Jermont Terry.
Three suspects were arrested Wednesday in connection with the theft.
Our sources said one of the suspects took detectives to where the instrument was being held at someone's residence on Milwaukee's east side Wednesday night.
The violin is now at Milwaukee police headquarters and is in good condition.
Police will hold a news conference at noon on Thursday to announce further details.
Check back to TODAY'S TMJ4 to watch the conference live at noon. 

Here's a link to the YouTube video posted by TMJ4 with Jonah Kaplan reporting on the recovery of the violin from police headquarters.

Photo released by Milwaukee Police Department of Chief Edward Flynn’s announcement following the arrests of the three suspects.  Live coverage of today's police press conference at 12:00 Noon CST is available on TMJ4's Milwaukee streaming site here.

The valuable and rare Stradivarius was stolen from Frank Almond on January 27, 2014. The suspect used a stun gun to disable Almond, who subsequently dropped the instrument. The thief then  escaped in a maroon minivan driven by an apparent accomplice.

According to the website stradivarius.org Stradivari designed and crafted more than 1,000 violins and instruments during his lifetime, only 650 of which are still in existence today.

Lipinski Stradivarius Theft, Milwaukee: WTMJ-TV and Journal Sentinel report Milwaukee Police Have Found Violin

Ashley Luthern of Milwaukee's Journal Sentinel in "Stolen Stradivarius violin recovered, sources say":
The 300-year-old Stradivarius violin that was taken in an armed robbery last month has been found, law enforcement sources told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
The Milwaukee Police Department is scheduled to hold a news conference on the investigation at noon Thursday but had not publicly confirmed that the violin was recovered.
WTMJ-TV reported Thursday morning that the violin was recovered overnight on Milwaukee's east side and is said to be in good condition.
During a Wednesday news conference, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said there was a "good chance" the violin was still in Milwaukee.
Milwaukee police have arrested three suspects in connection with the theft and have referred the case to the Milwaukee County district attorney's office. Charges are expected to be filed Friday, according to the district attorney's office.
The three suspects — two men, ages 42 and 36, and a woman, 32 — were arrested Monday morning at their respective Milwaukee residences and remained in police custody Wednesday. One of the suspects has been linked to a prior art theft.


Lipinski Stradivarius theft, Milwaukee: Three Suspects Arrested, Violin Not Found

Milwaukee Police twitter: "Chief Edward
Flynn announces arrests of 3 suspects in
Stradivarius violin robbery."
Local television station TMJ4 covered the "breaking news" and posted an 11-minute video which included the press conference held Wednesday at 4:30 p.m. led by Milwaukee's Mayor Tom Barrett, Police Chief Edward Flynn, and Acting Special Agent in Charge G.B. Jones. Mayor Barrett praised the cooperation between the Milwaukee Police Department and the FBI during the "ongoing investigation" into the theft of the violin. This is what Chief Flynn said:
At this event I wanted to notify everyone that the Milwaukee Police Department will be seeking charges against three individuals for the January 27th theft and robbery from the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra of his priceless Stradivarius violin. The suspects are a 36-year-old man, a 41-year-old man, and a 32-year-old woman -- all from the city of Milwaukee. They were arrested February 3 and all three remain in our custody. Now the Milwaukee Police Department will continue to work closely with our colleagues in the Federal Bureau of Investigation as well as the District Attorney's Office. We emphasize that at this time, that although we have made arrests, we have not yet recovered the violin... This case came together rapidly in the city of Milwaukee and the leads were followed up with by our detectives who had invaluable help from the FBI, from their art unit as obviously they have a broad perspective. As we continue to search for this violin, I suspect that their assistance will continue to be invaluable. The important thing to stress is that within a week of this case our detectives made an arrest which we believe will result in these individuals being succesfully charged and convicted. Now, as I said, we do not have the violin. As is known, there is a substantial reward out for that violin and we urge the community to do what it can to develop information that can help us identify and locate and recover this priceless instrument.
Chief Flynn then gave phone numbers for lines to the police department and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra and said that they have had 'valuable tips on these lines' and then opened up to the media for questions.

Is the violin in Milwaukee? Quick answer: "it's a reasonable supposition that it is still in our jurisdiction". The chief answered that the arrests were based on both information and physical evidence linked one of the suspects to this crime. Flynn answered another question that "at this time there is no indication that these three suspects were working for anyone but themselves". Chief Flynn would not speculate on motive, provide any information about results of a line-up, or the exact charges to be filed.

As for finding the violin, Chief Flynn said they would continue questioning the suspects and would be trying to illicit their cooperation -- he described them right now as "engaged in the process". The reward may have provided an "inducement" to some of the tips received. "We did get some calls and some of them were helpful," Flynn answered one journalist. And thanked another reporter for asking about the van which they are still seeking and asked the media to post the image of the van previously released. "The more information we can get, the quicker we can recover the van, and restore it to its owners," Flynn said. In answer to another question, he said that the case to the violin had been recovered within hours of the theft. The FBI representative Gibson said that they are pursuing leads outside of Wisconsin.

Here's a link to the news as posted by the Milwaukee Police Department "Suspects Arrested in Violin Robbery, Still Seeking Violin."

February 1, 2014

Saturday, February 01, 2014 - ,, No comments

Lipinski Stradivarius violin theft: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Ashley Luthern reports "$100,000 reward announced in Stradivarius violin theft"

Frank Almond: Lipinski Stradivarius
Ashley Luthern of the Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee) reports "$100,000 reward announced in Stradivarius violin theft" (January 31):
A $100,000 reward was announced Friday for a priceless 300-year-old Stradivarius violin that was stolen in an armed robbery this week. Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond was attacked with a stun gun Monday and robbed of the violin, which has been on indefinite loan to him from its anonymous owners since 2008, a common practice in the music world. The reward will be offered to anyone who can provide information that results in the safe return of the stolen violin. Officials declined to disclose Friday who, or what organization, is financing the reward. 
[...] 
A Milwaukee police spokesman confirmed Friday that Almond reported the robbers were a man and a woman. Investigators are reviewing security footage and following leads in the case, but no further information was available Friday. 
The theft marks at least the second time the "Lipinski Stradivarius" has disappeared from public view. The violin was built in 1715 in Cremona, Italy, by famed violin craftsman Antonio Stradivari. Its first known owner was the virtuoso Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770), known to listeners for his "Devil's Trill" Sonata. The instrument has also belonged to Polish violinist Karol Lipinski (1790-1861), whose name has stayed attached to it. In 1962, the Lipinski Stradivarius was sold to Richard Anschuetz, a pianist in New York who spent summers in Milwaukee as a child. Anschuetz purchased it for his wife, the Estonian violinist and child prodigy Evi Liivak, with whom he had performed since the 1940s, according to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The couple performed around the world as a duo until the late 1980s. Once they stopped performing, the Lipinski Stradivarius disappeared from public view for nearly 20 years. The violin had not been heard in public until it was given on loan to Almond in 2008. The current owners, who remain anonymous, have been characterized as people with "strong ties" to Milwaukee.
Milwaukee police held a press conference the day after the theft to discuss the investigation.

January 29, 2014

Wednesday, January 29, 2014 - ,, No comments

Lipinski Stradivarius violin theft, Milwaukee: Police Chief Says "These are Wildly Valuable to a Tiny Slice of the Art World"

Lipinski Stradivarius/Frank Almond
by Catherine Sezgin, ARCA Blog Editor

Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn held a press conference Tuesday to announce the theft of the Lipinski Stradivarius violin stolen from Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond when he was attacked by a taser after leaving a concert at Wisconsin Lutheran Church Monday night. The Milwaukee Police Department also uploaded a 14-minute video on YouTube (Milwaukee Police, "Rare Violin Taken in Robbery") and published information about the theft on its website.
After a performance at Wisconsin Lutheran College, the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra was assaulted and robbed of a rare, valuable Stradivarius violin built in 1715. At approximately 10:20pm on January 27, Frank Almond was walking to his car after performing at Wisconsin Lutheran College with other musicians. As he approached his parked car, a suspect used an electronic control device on Mr. Almond, causing Mr. Almond to drop the violin he was carrying. The suspect then took the violin and fled in a waiting car driven by a second suspect. 
The vehicle description is a late-80’s or early-90’s maroon or burgundy Chrysler or Dodge minivan.  It appears at this time that the violin was the primary target of this assault and robbery. It is important to note that this violin is valuable to a very small number of people in the world and is not something easily sold for what it is worth. We have a photograph of the specific Stradivarius violin and a car similar to the one used in the crime at the bottom of the screen.
Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said “Last night, the artistic heritage of the City of Milwaukee was assaulted and robbed.”  Flynn was joined at the press conference by Mark Niehaus, President of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
The Milwaukee Police Department is working with the FBI’s Art Crimes Team out of FBI Headquarters in Quantico, Virginia. This team specializes in high-end art thefts, including instruments like the violin taken on Monday. This violin has been entered into the international art theft database. The FBI team works with Interpol to connect with international art dealers who are able to help locate stolen items throughout international markets. 
We are following up on every lead. We encourage anyone with any information about things they have seen or heard that may be related to this assault and robbery to contact the Milwaukee Police Department at 414-935-7360 or the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at 414-226-7838.
During the press conference, Chief Flynn asserted that the violin was the "primary target". Although this violin may be considered 'priceless' by some, practically, Flynn said, a Stradivarius would sell in the "high seven figures" (indicating tens of millions of dollars). Flynn elaborated:
It's important to note that this violin is very valuable but very valuable to a very small population. This is not something that can be easily sold for even a fraction of its monetary value.
Flynn showed a photo of the front and back of this wood violin made in 1715 and identified 'very specific striations that for a violin of this type are virtually the violin's fingerprint.'

The police chief, who was appointed in 2008, asked the media to support the investigation:

I urge the media to please respect the privacy of our crime victim. It is unusual for us to identify the victim in a crime like this. We are doing it because the information was publicly available, but he is still a crime victim. He is still our witness. Please do not put him in a position that he may inadvertently give information that he may give under stress that could compromise the integrity and ultimately the success of this investigation.

MSO's President, Mark Niehas confirmed that Almond is in "good condition" however he is recovering from being tasered and will not be on the stage this weekend. Niehas, in answering questions from journalists, said that the Stradivarius violins need to be played to "live on" otherwise it would "rot". 

Frank Almond posted information about the Lipinski violin here.

Thefts of Other Stradivarius Violins:

The Gibson Stradivarius violin owned by Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman was stolen from his hotel room in 1916 and returned hours later. In 1936, while Huberman was playing another rare Stradivarius violin onstage at Carnegie Hall, the "journeyman violinist Julian Atman stole the Gibson Strad and played it -- dirty -- for 50 years. Joshua Bell purchased this violin in 2001 for $4 million to save it from being stored in a museum.
It was reported that the 1927 $3.5 million Stradivarius Violin owned by 91-year-old Erica Morini had been stolen from her Fifth Avenue apartment in October 1995 while the retired violinist was dying in the hospital; the Davidoff-Morini Stradivarius violin has not been recovered.
In December 2010, three 'opportunistic' thieves stole a Stradivarius violin from Min-Jin Kym at a Pret A Manger sandwich shop in Euston station in London; two and a half years later, the violin was recovered by police in July 2013 from a property in Midlands with very little damage.