MILWAUKEE, WI — A Stradivarius violin stolen last week in Milwaukee has been recovered, authorities said Thursday.
It was found in a suitcase in the attic of a home there, police said at a press conference. It appeared to be in good condition, a representative of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra told reporters.
The violin was stolen on January 27 from Frank Almond, the orchestra’s concertmaster.
Three people are in custody in connection with the theft but have not been formally charged, authorities said.
Police Chief Edward Flynn described the three as a 36-year-old man, a 41-year-man and a 32-year-old woman, all from Milwaukee.
Stefan Hersh, the man who originally authenticated the instrument for the orchestra, told CNN that law enforcement contacted him to identify a violin believed to the nearly 300-year-old instrument known as the “ex-Lipinski.”
The orchestra offered a $100,000 reward for the safe return of the instrument. Hersh has appraised the violin at an estimated $5 million for insurance purposes.
“We’re confident the subjects in custody are the subjects responsible for this,” said G.B. Jones, acting special agent in charge with the FBI in Milwaukee.
Almond was walking to his car after a performance when an assailant used a stun gun on him, causing him to drop the instrument. The attacker took the violin and fled to a waiting vehicle, which a second suspect was driving, police said.
According to the symphony, Almond plays on a violin made by Antonio Stradivari from 1715.
Hersh has spoken to Almond since the recovery, saying the musician is understandably relieved. Almond has not yet been reunited with the instrument, according to Hersh.
Stradivari was born in 1644. He set up shop in Cremona, Italy, where he made violins, harps, guitars, violas and cellos. Before his death in 1737, Stradivari is thought to have made more than 1,100 instruments — of which some 650 remain today.
He is the world’s most celebrated violin maker.
By Shawn Nottingham
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