Stradivarius violin which thieves tried to flog for £100 set to fetch £2m at auction
London Evening Standard, October 22, 2013
By Benedict Moore-Bridger
A Stradivarius violin stolen by thieves who tried to sell it for £100 could make more than £2 million when it is sold at auction next month.
The instrument was snatched at a cafe at Euston station three years ago from acclaimed London-based musician Min-Jin Kym, who had played it since she was a teenager.
After the theft she acquired another Stradivarius violin, later describing her “incredible feeling of elation” when police finally found it earlier this year.
Now the instrument, made in Cremona, Italy in 1696, is to go under the hammer at the Tarisio auction house, a specialist in stringed instruments.
Kym said she hoped the public sale of the violin would help close this chapter of her life.
She said: “This violin was a faithful friend for many years and I was devastated by its loss. Its recovery is an absolute relief and I am eager to hear the violin onstage once more and I wish its next owner all the best of luck and success.”
Soloist and chamber musician Kym’s former violin is one of about 600 surviving instruments made by Antonio Stradivari.
It was found at an unnamed property in the West Midlands, was returned to insurers in the summer.
At the time of theft news reports valued the violin at £1.2 million. Online bidding for the auction will start at £1 million but the final price could fetch upwards of £2 million. A portion of the proceeds and sales commission will benefit the authorities who were instrumental in recovering the violin.
Jason Price, director of the Tarisio auction house, said he was not at liberty to say who was the present owner of her former violin. “Min-Jin has replaced it with something else, she had no other option. It is a 1705 Stradivarius, nine years later than this one but it is similar and also a great instrument.”
He added: “It is so exceptionally fortunate that Min-Jin’s violin was recovered safely and can now find its way into the hands of the next deserving owner.
“Min-Jin made a spectacular start to her career on this Stradivarius and we are certain the next owner will find similar success.”
In 2011 John Maughan was jailed for four and a half years at Blackfriars crown court in London for the theft.
He and accomplices had tried to sell it in an internet cafe not far from Euston. Two teenagers were sentenced for their involvement.
British Transport police’s investigation spread across Europe, with one false trail involving an instrument in Bulgaria that turned out to be a replica.