Jewish family to get back stolen Stradivarius violin after 35 years

A painting of violin maker Antonio Stradivari, by Edgar Bundy from 1893. Credit: Wikimedia Commons.

U.S. authorities announced on Thursday that they have recovered a rare 18th-century violin that was stolen from Jewish violinist Roman Totenberg in 1980.

The Stradivarius violin was made in 1734 by famed Italian violin maker Antonio Stradivari. Stradivari violins are extremely expensive, with one being sold at auction in 2011 for $15.9 million.

The violin in question was stolen after a performance from Totenberg, who has since passed away. Totenberg's daughter Nina Totenberg, who is also a correspondent for NPR, reported the violin's discovery on Thursday and said that her father suspected that another violinist had stolen it. Authorities were never able to prove it because they didn't have enough evidence for a search warrant.

“My mother was so frustrated,” Nina Totenberg said, “that she famously went around Boston asking her friends if they knew anybody in the mob who would break into this guy’s apartment.”

This past June, a woman who inherited the violin from the suspected thief presented the violin for appraisal. The appraiser notified the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), who took custody of the instrument, according to court papers cited by the Forward.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said that authorities will soon hold a ceremony in which they will return the violin to Totenberg's family, which plans to have it restored and sold.

“We’re 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. All of us feel very strongly that the voice has been stilled for too long," Nina Totenberg said.




Posted on August 6, 2015 .