Antonio Stradivari, Cremona, c. 1717, the 'Kochanski'

Violin: 40608

Back: in two pieces of quarter cut maple with medium to broad-width flame ascending from the center seam.

Top: in two pieces of fine-grained spruce widening slightly to the edges.

Ribs: and head of similar wood.

Varnish: of a reddish orange-brown color.

Length of back: 35.5 cm

Upper bouts: 16.9 cm

Lower bouts: 20.8 cm

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"This violin once belonged to the Tsar Nicolas II in Russia. When the revolution began, he offered the violin to the Polish violinist, Pavel Kochanski, in order to keep the violin safe from harm. Kochanski then attempted to flee Russia in a train car carrying farm animals with his best friend, Artur Rubinstein. When the train was stopped by revolutionary soldiers, Kochanski had the idea to play revolutionary melodies on his violin - which saved his life. When I acquired the "Kochankski" several decades later, everyone thought I was crazy, as it was at the time way beyond my means. But for me, it was an unbelievable dream come true; a privilege to be able to express myself through these four strings and some wood, miraculously put together by a genius."

Amoyal led a charmed existence... from his studies with Heifetz, an ideal career - until the dream was interrupted when the Kochanski was stolen from him in Italy. "It was like something from a horror movie. The person who stole the violin had heard it was one of the most famous and valuable violins of Stradivarius, and thought he could re-sell it. He was also involved in drug dealing and was assassinated a couple of months later, but not before he had time to sell the violin to an antique dealer, who also thought he could re-sell it. But after a few attempts he realized that nobody was prepared to buy such a valuable and well-known instrument. The only possible buyer was... me!"

The transactions were agonizingly long, but with the help of a specialized lawyer in Rome known for his skill in negotiating difficult cases with gangsters and kidnappers, and the Italian carabinieri, the horror story turned at last into a fairy tale when the violin was returned to Amoyal. "It came back absolutely intact, and now my love for it is even greater."


Count Matvey Vielgorsky
Count Loris-Melikov
until 1920 Paul Kochanski
1922-1976 Anonymous
in 1976 Sold by W. E. Hill & Sons
1976-1987 Pierre Amoyal
1987-1991 Reported stolen
from 1991 Current owner

Known players

Paul Kochanski, Pierre Amoyal

Certificates & Documents

  • Certificate: John & Arthur Beare, London (1997)

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