Stolen Stradivarius sells for £1.38m
The Guardian, December 18, 2013
New owners of violin stolen at a station cafe three years ago are said to be a British musical festival led by an English violinist
A 317-year-old Stradivarius stolen from the side of an internationally acclaimed violinist in a station cafe three years ago has been sold at auction for £1.385m including the buyer’s premium.
The new owners – said to be a British musical festival led by an English violinist – had bid £1.2m, the sum the instrument was valued at when taken.
Its colourful past provided no extra attraction for would-be buyers with just three offers starting at the reserve £1m. The violin was snatched from Min-Jin Kym in an apparently opportunist crime at a Pret a Manger at London’s Euston station and found this summer at a house in the Midlands.
The online auction by Tarisio did not achieve the £2m or more hoped for though far more than £100 the thieves tried to sell it for at an internet cafe. Jason Price, Tarisio’s director, said: “We congratulate the new owner and wish them the best of luck and success with the violin. We are delighted that it will be played and enjoyed for many more years to come and that it will actively contribute to the musical vibrancy of this country through the festival.”
Kym had spoken of her elation when the violin, made at Antonio Stradivari’s workshop in Cremona, Italy, in 1696, was recovered and described it as her “faithful friend” when its sale was announced. She had replaced it with another Stradivarius and auctioneers did not reveal who owned it after its recovery.
Price has previously described the instrument as “extremely usable” as well as “extremely attractive.” In the end, his candid assessment when he announced the auction proved accurate. “Is it worth more as a result of being stolen? Probably not, but it sure adds colour and intrigue to the history of the instrument.”
In 2011 John Maughan was jailed for four and a half years at Blackfriars crown court in London for the theft of the violin. Two teenagers were sentenced for their involvement.
British Transport police chased leads across Europe before finding the violin. A portion of the proceeds and sales commission will benefit the authorities who helped recover the violin.