Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, 1684, the 'General Kyd, Leo Stern'

Cello: 40265

Number of images available: 3.
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Original label

Back: Two-piece cut on the half-slab and marked by an irregular figure which is interspersed with knot formations in the middle bouts

Top: of even medium-broad grain

Scroll: cut on the quarter, of small figure

Ribs: of wood similar to back

Varnish: Golden-brown

Length of back: 77.5 cm

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According to the Hills, this is the earliest cello that still bears the original label untampered. However, its dimensions have been reduced. It was originally designed as a bass with five strings.

Antonio Stradivarius: His Life & Work, W. Henry, Arthur F. & Alfred E. Hill, William E. Hill & Sons, London, 1902

"The Los Angeles Philharmonic was reunited with its priceless Stradivarius cello on Tuesday, three weeks after a clumsy thief stole it from the porch of the orchestra's principal cellist.

The cello, slightly damaged, narrowly escaped being turned into a case for compact discs. It is now undergoing repairs and is expected to return to the stage of the Walt Disney Concert Hall in October.

"This is a great day for us," said a beaming Deborah Borda, president of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association. "The cello and the orchestra are back together."

The instrument, built in the Cremona, Italy, workshop of Antonio Stradivari in 1684, is one of only 60 cellos made by Stradivari still extant and is insured for $3.5 million.

The cello was turned over to the police on Saturday by Melanie Stevens, a 29-year-old nurse who said she found it, in its plastic case, on April 28. Ms. Stevens said she saw it leaning against a Dumpster in the Silver Lake neighborhood, a mile from where it was stolen.

She said that she had no idea at the time that the philharmonic was missing its irreplaceable cello.

Ms. Stevens asked her boyfriend, Igal Asseraf, a cabinetmaker, if he could repair the cracks and scratches in the instrument, said her lawyer, Ronald Hoffman. Mr. Asseraf agreed to try, but said that if he could not fix it he would hinge the top and turn it into a case for compact discs. Ms. Borda said on Tuesday that she reacted with horror when she heard that. "At least it wasn't a planter," she said.

Ms. Stevens stored the cello in a back bedroom and did nothing until she saw a television report 10 days ago about the missing Stradivarius. She contacted a lawyer, who negotiated its surrender on Saturday. A $50,000 reward had been offered for the cello, but it was not clear if Ms. Stevens was eligible for it.

The cello had been taken early on the morning of April 25 from the front porch of Peter Stumpf, leader of the orchestra's cello section. He had inadvertently left the instrument outside, officials said. A security videotape caught the thief riding away on a bicycle and recorded the sound of the bicycle running into trash cans.

Ms. Borda, accompanied by the orchestra's stringed instrument conservator, Robert Cauer, went to police headquarters on Monday to identify the cello. Mr. Cauer immediately recognized the instrument, which he has tended for 20 years. He called the damage routine.

Mr. Stumpf, mortified, appeared briefly at the news conference announcing the retrieval on Tuesday. "I'm just incredibly relieved it's been solved and the cello has been returned," he said. "This has been an enormous weight on me for the last three weeks.""

Priceless Cello Is Again in Orchestra's Possession, John M. Broder, The New York Times

"At the sale of Sir Wm. Curtis's instruments, lot 7, was a violoncello of the date 1684, said to have been made by Stradiuarius for a Corfiote nobleman, and deposited by him in a chest with cotton, and there left for at least a century; it was put up at 200 guineas and bought in for 235."

The History of the Violin and Other Instruments Played On With the Bow From the Remotest Times to the Present, John Russell Smith, London, 1864

"EVERY expert in stringed instruments has, at least, heard of the late General Kidd's beautiful Stradivari bass, which has been a household word in the trade ever since that gentleman died. But I will relate here a few details known only to myself which may interest all who are fond of facts connected with fine old instruments. In the summer of 1850 General Kidd resided at Brussels and accidentally met my father there ; they were acquaintances as long as he remained in the Belgian capital. I have a vivid recollection of having, one day, been informed by my father that he had invited that gentleman to our house, to play a trio for piano, violin, and 'cello, with my mother and myself, and requesting me to be at home on that day. . . .

In those days I knew nothing about the makers of violins or 'cellos, and I did not know that General Kidd's instrument was a Stradivari which was destined to become celebrated among connoisseurs ; but I remember that he himself thought it a very fine instrument indeed. It was of a warm reddish brown colour, rather dark, had a very elegant shape, and seemed to me of a rather small size for a bass ; but what struck me most was the extremely rich tone it produced - and General Kidd played remarkably well. . . .

The last I heard of the Kidd bass was that it formed part of the collection of a Mr. Goding in England about 1858. This is, no doubt, the late Mr. James Goding, who is mentioned in Hart's book as having the finest collection of stringed instruments in Europe at that time."

The Old Collector, Dr. T. L. Phipson, The Strad, 1903, London

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Los Angeles Philharmonic, Henry Werro, W. E. Hill & Sons, Leo Stern, Lord Amherst of Hackney, W. E. Hill & Sons, Perkin, W. E. Hill & Sons, Christie & Manson, Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume, James Goding, Sir William Curtis, General Kyd

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Known players

Leo Stern, Peter Stumpf


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