Stradivarius violin stolen from Bienen prof in Milwaukee

    Updated Feb. 6, 12:30 p.m.

    The violin stolen from Bienen lecturer Frank Almond in late January has been recovered after an anonymus reward was offered for its return, according to the Milwaulkee-Wisconsin Sentinel Journal. Three suspects have been arrested in the theft. 

    Almond was robbed of a 300 year-old Stradivarius violin on Jan. 27 in Milwaukee, according to Police Chief Edward Flynn.

    At approximately 10:20 p.m., Almond, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster, was attacked with a stun gun and robbed in a Wisconsin Lutheran College parking lot after performing at the college as part of the Frankly Music concert series.

    The violin, named after a previous owner and known as the "Lipinski," was the primary target of the armed robbery, and was on loan to Almond from an anonymous owner.

    "This violin is very valuable," Flynn said, "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."

    The Lipinski Stradivarius, made in Italy in 1715, is one of the most valuable musical instruments in the world. Similar violins have sold for as much as $15.9 million. There are fewer than 700 Stradivarius violins in the world. With a unique design on the back of the body, the Lipinski Stradivarius is easily distinguished from other violins, Flynn said.

    Flynn said MPD is collaborating with the FBI Art Crimes Team to recover the instrument, and Interpol has been notified as well. The details of the theft were recorded into an international art theft database.

    "This could theoretically be an international crime," Flynn said, but added that there is no reason to suspect an international connection. An ex-FBI expert told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Wednesday that the violin is likely still in Milwaukee.

    MSO President Mark Niehaus said Almond was recovering from being stunned, but is in "good condition."

    Almond has been on faculty since 2010, but will begin teaching at the Chicago College of Performing Arts at Roosevelt University in the Fall.

    The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel first reported the story.


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