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Bring it bach!
A thief stole a rare 18th century violin said to be worth more than $700,000 in California — and he may not even know it, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The 1710 curly maple and alpine spruce instrument — built by Hieronymus Amati II, one of the most famous violin makers in history — was inside art dealer Rowland Weinstein’s car, which was stolen from his LA residence on Dec. 8, according to the report.
The art dealer said he was moving the violin from a previous location that he felt was not secure enough when he accidentally left his white Tesla unlocked momentarily while he went into his house. When he returned from inside, the car and the prized possession were gone.
A spokesperson for the FBI, Laura Eimiller, told the paper the agency has no leads in the case.
“According to LAPD, a car thief is believed to have been in the area,” Eimiller said. “It’s possible that the person who stole it may not have known the value and discovered it [later] and may try to pawn it or sell it overseas. So it’s critical to get the information to the public so that hopefully somebody who received it, or is offered it, can identify it and return it to its rightful owner.”
Weinstein is offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to the violin’s safe return.
“I’m responsible for a piece of history and that piece of history got away from me,” Weinstein told the outlet. “It’s so fragile. My biggest fear is that someone who doesn’t know what they have will put it in the wrong environment and it will get damaged or destroyed.”
Weinstein bought the violin in October 2013 for $507,436 from online auction house Tarisio. The director of the auction house says the instrument’s worth would probably appreciate to $700,000 — $900,000 today, according to the LA Times.
The gallery owner told the paper he does not play the violin, but allows musician friends and professionals to play the 310 year-old instrument, which is in excellent condition.
“I feel extremely close to it because it’s a part of history that has touched so many lives. Not just the lives of people who have been lucky enough to play it, but those who have heard it over 300 years,” Weinstein reportedly said.
Weinstein has been targeted by thieves before.
In 2011 a 1965 Pablo Picasso pencil drawing, “Tête de Femme,” was stolen from his San Francisco gallery by a Hoboken man who casually walked out of the gallery with the art tucked under a newspaper. The suspect was later arrested and the art was recovered.
Experts say there is reason to be optimistic in this case as well.
“This doesn’t appear to be a planned theft, it seems to be a crime of opportunity based on the facts, so it’s potentially still in Los Angeles, possibly in someone’s home,” Berkeley Law lecturer and violin maker Carla Shapreau told the paper.
“When a theft is planned, there’s often a customer for it. When someone sees a car unlocked, they’re more likely to try and pass [an item found inside] locally. But it would be difficult to transfer this in the stream of commerce, especially if it’s well publicized.”
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