A $6 million Stradivarius violin was stolen from a musician in Milwaukee. Frank Almond, with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, was robbed on Monday evening following a performance at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Almond said he was approached by a man and a woman who assaulted him with a Taser. As he fell to the ground, the couple grabbed the 300-year-old violin and fled the scene.
The man and woman drove away in a dark red Chrysler or Dodge minivan. Authorities said the vehicle is a late 1980s or early 1990s model. Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said the antique has little monetary value as it would be nearly impossible to sell. He said the thieves likely stole the violin for its value as a work of art.
As reported by CNN, Almond had borrowed the priceless violin from its owner. The “ex-Lipinski” violin was crafted in 1715. A representative with the Milwaukee Police Department said they are working with the FBI’s Art Crime Team to recover the $6 million Stradivarius.
Authorities said the thieves left the violin’s case at the scene. Although they have no leads, they said, “it is important to note that this violin is valuable to a very small number people in the world.” The FBI often works with Interpol to recover stolen art that may be sold overseas.
Although there are many replicas, original Stradivarius violins were designed and handcrafted by Antonio Stradivari in the late 1600s and early 1700s. Throughout his career, the talented artisan designed and built more than 1,000 violins. However, the years between 1700 and 1725 are considered his “golden period.”
The violins crafted by Stradivari during those 25 years are world-renowned for their unique deep red finish, broad edges, black accents and redesigned soundboxes. Although he continued crafting the instruments well into his 80s, his “golden period” violins are the most expensive and sought after designs.
Throughout the last 300 years, artists have attempted to recreate the sound and beauty of the Stradivarius violin. However, diehard fans argue the exquisite sound of an original Stradivari violin cannot be replicated.
Similar violins have sold from $5 million to $15 million. However, art dealers are often hesitant to auction or sell antique instruments unless the original owner can be verified. The FBI maintains an art theft database to discourage the sale of stolen instruments and artwork.
In 2012, a Stradivarius violin owned by musician Min-Jin Kym was stolen from a diner while she was having lunch. Although it took nearly three years, authorities eventually recovered the instrument based on a tip.
Frank Almond hopes authorities will recover the $6 million Stradivarius as he wants to return the priceless instrument to its rightful owner.