Violin Thought To Be Stolen Stradivarius Recovered

A violin that could be a rare multi-million dollar Stradivarius stolen from a concertmaster last month has been recovered in Milwaukee, police said Thursday.

Police are working to confirm the violin is the one stolen from Frank Almond in a brazen attack outside Wisconsin Lutheran College in Milwaukee Jan. 27.

Photo: Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra/AP
Playing a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin that was on loan to him during a concert in Milwaukee.

“It has to be confirmed as to the actual authenticity of what it is,” said Lt. Jeffrey Norman. Police will contact experts to provide that confirmation, Norman said. He did not comment on the condition of the recovered violin.

Prosecutors confirmed Wednesday that three people have been arrested in connection with the theft. Two men, ages 41 and 36, and a 32-year-old woman, are in custody and could be in Milwaukee County Circuit Court Thursday.

Almond was walking to his car following a performance at the college when someone jumped out of a van, shocked him with a stun gun and seized the Stradivarius, which was on loan to him. The robber got back into the waiting vehicle, which sped off.

Almond was knocked to the ground but wasn’t seriously hurt. He was devastated by the loss of the violin, which was crafted in 1715 and has been appraised for insurance purposes at $5 million. The owner of the violin has not been revealed.

The case in which Almond kept the instrument was found, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra announced someone was offering $100,000 for the instrument’s safe return.

A message seeking comment from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra wasn’t immediately returned Thursday.

The violin is known in musical circles as the “Lipinski” Stradivarius. Its previous owners include virtuoso Giuseppe Tartini, who was known for his “Devil’s Trill” Sonata, and Polish violinist Karol Lipinski.

It was passed down through generations, eventually landing with the heirs of Estonian violinist Evi Liivak, according to Stefan Hersh a Chicago-based violin curator who helped restore it to playing condition after it was removed from storage in a bank vault in 2008.

Estimates vary for the number of Stradivarius violins that still exist, said Lisbeth Butler, the secretary of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers. Most experts believe that 600 to 650 remain.