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Lost and Found, $4 Million Violin
May 6, 2008 7:33 PM   Subscribe

Lost and Found, $4 Million Violin. Philippe Quint, Grammy award winning Russian violinist left his loaned 1723 Kiesewetter Stradivarius violin in a taxi on the way back from the airport April 20th. Taxi driver, Mohamed Khalil, got in touch the next day to return it after unknowingly leaving it in the back of taxi, on a Newark, NJ street overnight.
posted by doug3505 (49 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite

 
And the cab driver only got a $100 reward?
posted by zsazsa at 7:37 PM on May 6, 2008


I wish it was a cello. Because I could make that "Always room for cello" comment and everyone would think I'm witty.
posted by Dizzy at 7:38 PM on May 6, 2008


At least he didn't accidently destroy it
posted by ornate insect at 7:40 PM on May 6, 2008


Hell, I'd take a c-note reward for a returned item any day. The best I ever got was $40 for bringing a wallet back. And that was a *huge* surprise, because a) the passenger was a lousy tipper, and b) there was no money in the wallet.
posted by Banky_Edwards at 7:40 PM on May 6, 2008


As featured on this evening's NBC Nightly News: Cabbie Returns $4 Million Violin [video | 01:22]
posted by ericb at 7:46 PM on May 6, 2008


Back in the day Yo Yo Ma left his priceless Stradivarius cello in the back of a cab and it was the only time I ever wished I was a headline writer for the New York Post, because as soon as I saw the story on the news that night I channeled his moms and I said:

"OH NO YO DIDN'T!"
posted by Divine_Wino at 7:55 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Antonio Stradivari has been the Greatest Ever since 1680.

Take that, Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, the Beatles and Elvis.

(ellhat et al, I considered the serial comma, but I just couldn't do it)
posted by stubby phillips at 8:00 PM on May 6, 2008


If you can not remember your priceless instrument, you do not deserve your priceless instrument.
posted by Mick at 8:01 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


Nice to know the Russians celebrate 4/20 too.
posted by mannequito at 8:07 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


,

This belong to anyone?
posted by Dizzy at 8:07 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


As featured on this evening's [INSERT STATION] News

Bit news filterish ain't it?
posted by mattoxic at 8:09 PM on May 6, 2008


In 2006 the Stradivari Society arranged a loan of the instrument from its current owners, Clement and Karen Arrison, to Mr Quint

To: Mr. Quint

From: Mr. and Mrs. Arrison

Subject: Hey, jackass ...

Body: ... if you're just going to leave it in the taxi, we want our fucking Strad back. Hugs and kisses, the owners. Remember us? Freak.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:10 PM on May 6, 2008


They should probably hire a roadie.
posted by stubby phillips at 8:13 PM on May 6, 2008


It has been valued at $4m (£2m).
heh.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 8:14 PM on May 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


And then Mr. T got a cab with a sweet gold Rolls Royce grill, right?

Someone please know this reference, or I shall feel very old.
posted by bradth27 at 8:17 PM on May 6, 2008


Cellist Yo-Yo Ma left his $1.75 million cello in a cab in 1999. What is it with these people?
posted by clearly at 8:22 PM on May 6, 2008


I'm sayin' yo.
posted by Divine_Wino at 9:01 PM on May 6, 2008


DC Cab, bradth. I dig.

$100? Whoa, thanks Rockefeller!
posted by davelog at 9:24 PM on May 6, 2008


I must do a pocket check a half-dozen times a day. "Keys, wallet, cell phone, pocket knife..."

I'm pretty sure if any one of those was worth four mil I'd never take my hand off it. I don't get how people do this.
posted by Cyrano at 9:47 PM on May 6, 2008


stitched into your flesh. seriously. row of piercings chained over it.
posted by Dillonlikescookies at 10:13 PM on May 6, 2008


Seriously. How DO these people just leave priceless instruments in a cab like that?? I wouldn't have left a $100 student violin at my teacher's house! Maybe my mom's just scarier than theirs.
posted by katillathehun at 10:36 PM on May 6, 2008 [2 favorites]


When people leave items in cabs, alcohol is usually involved.
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 10:47 PM on May 6, 2008


I'm pretty sure if any one of those was worth four mil I'd never take my hand off it. I don't get how people do this.

Because humans haven't evolved to keep stuff. It has nothing to do with fear of losing it, or caring about the owner, or reputation, or whatever. The simple inconvenience of having lost is is more than enough negative reinforcement. And yet, people lose stuff all the time.

This story is only unusual because of the nature and value of the object. Check out the manifest of a lost property auction some time. There is stuff there, typically, that people would say they would prefer to lose their hand than lose the item. But they put it down, they turn their head away, they dig out the cab fare, their phone rings or something, and they get out of the cab, or train, or bus, or hotel room, or wherever and leave the thing behind.

Personally, I've trained myself to feel the lightness in my pocket that means my phone or wallet or keys are absent, and the same for my wristwatch. But I never pay over $20 for a pair of sunglasses, and normally buy three or four pairs at a time. When the second-last one is lost, time to get some more.

What I really want is a set of RFID tags mounted in stickers or something, that I can just stick on all my stuff and have it tell my phone where it all is, all the time, and the phone will beep if it goes more than X distance away from me.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:19 PM on May 6, 2008


Mick If you can not remember your priceless instrument, you do not deserve your priceless instrument.

It's more the other way around: the priceless instrument is only priceless in the hands of a person who doesn't care about it for itself, and thinks only of the music it could make.

IMO, hire a more stolid and sensible type to follow the musician around and carry the violin. (And incidentally stop the musician getting mugged etc, which could just as readily happen.)
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:31 PM on May 6, 2008


"I did something really stupid," Ma said sheepishly after he got the instrument back. "I was in such a rush, I was so exhausted, I'd given a concert at Carnegie Hall last night. I just forgot."

I would think that if you toted something around everywhere you went, every day, week after week, year after year, you'd stop thinking of it as rare and valuable, and consider it more like your arm, or your leg, and forget that you could accidentally leave it behind. (Still, you think, a cello? But it was in the trunk of the cab, not with him.)

p.s. Lawrence of Arabia, famously, wrote 250,000 words of Seven Pillars of Wisdom then left his briefcase behind when he changed trains, and the manuscript was never found. (Rewriting it from memory, he ended up with 400,000 words.)
posted by LeLiLo at 12:07 AM on May 7, 2008


An even funnier variation on this theme: David Hanson leaving the 1 million dollar robot head of Philip K. Dick behind on an airplane... never to be seen again.
posted by dgaicun at 12:34 AM on May 7, 2008 [1 favorite]


Ocean's 1. Clooney pretends to be a cab driver outside symphony hall.
posted by srboisvert at 12:44 AM on May 7, 2008


I must do a pocket check a half-dozen times a day. "Keys, wallet, cell phone, pocket knife..."

I'm pretty sure if any one of those was worth four mil I'd never take my hand off it. I don't get how people do this.


So you don't value your ... at 4 mill then?
posted by srboisvert at 12:48 AM on May 7, 2008


An even funnier variation on this theme: David Hanson leaving the 1 million dollar robot head of Philip K. Dick behind on an airplane... never to be seen again.

"Huh? Yeah, no, I didn't see any robot head of Philip K. Dick. There was some other robot heads but nah not that one. Huh? No, they're pretty busy, we can't really call em up now. Yeah, no, it probably wasn't there anyway."

I fucking hate airlines. Taxi drivers on the other hand seem to be really good about stuff like this - I left my cell phone in a cab recently and, you know, it sure as hell isn't worth $4m, but a (different) driver dropped it off(!) for me the next day. It was really nice.
posted by blacklite at 1:07 AM on May 7, 2008


This seems to be a trend? £180k violin left on train.
posted by dawson at 1:49 AM on May 7, 2008


This is actually a really funny coincidence because just last week I left my infant child in a taxi. Damndest thing, I was really tired, and, I dunno, it was the end of the day, I just spent all day with it and, go figure. Anyway, the taxi driver, Mohamed Khalil, ( née Harold Shipmann, of all things - went to high school with a good friend of mine) got in touch the next day to return it after unknowingly leaving it in the back of taxi, on a Newark, NJ street overnight.

I mean, ain't life wacky?
posted by From Bklyn at 2:11 AM on May 7, 2008


Travel and performance are exhausting, and exhausted people do unfortunate things like leaving important things in cars and falling down stairs and landing on fragile works of art.

What I don't get is why these guys are taking cabs to begin with. If I were the owner of one of these incredibly costly instruments, whether it was on loan or if I were the musician myself, I would make it a contractual obligation that the performance rider include car service to and from the airports on both sides of the journey for any performance involving the instrument. If you can't afford a couple of hundred bucks for limo service, with professional drivers who get out and handle the baggage so that the artist can keep their hands on their violin/cello/whatever, then you don't get to hear Yo-Yo Ma or Phillipe Quint or Joshua Bell play. That just makes sense to me, somehow.
posted by Dreama at 2:26 AM on May 7, 2008


Taxi driver, Mohamed Khalil, got in touch the next day to return it after unknowingly leaving it in the back of taxi, on a Newark, NJ street overnight.

Which is what you'd expect any decent, honest person to do.

Someone found a worthless journal I have left on a KLM flight to Amsterdam and took the bother to turn it in so that my daughter, when she is big, will have the record I kept of our first year together.

There are decent and honest people everywhere you look.
posted by three blind mice at 3:58 AM on May 7, 2008 [2 favorites]


this is why we can have nice things.
posted by snofoam at 3:58 AM on May 7, 2008 [3 favorites]


When people leave items in cabs, alcohol cell phone chat is usually involved.

What aeschenkarnos said. .. Is it *that* hard to imagine the musician, like many others before him, immersed in a conversation on his cell phone -- or possibly managing more than one piece of luggage on his own? People caught up in texting and chatting are capable of much worse, esp. behind the wheel, than the perceived ineptitude of leaving items behind. Or he might have really thought the violin was together with his other things -- if it's dark, and instrument cases are usually darker than lighter color, it doesn't strike me as unlikely for it to be overlooked, especially if it was at night.
posted by skyper at 4:48 AM on May 7, 2008


And the cab driver only got a $100 reward?

$100? Whoa, thanks Rockefeller!


What figure would you think appropriate?
posted by IndigoJones at 5:35 AM on May 7, 2008


$100 reward... and concert tickets, and performance at the cab lot at the airport (and of course loads of free publicity for the violinist)

Just saw the violinist being interviewed on the news and apparently he lifted his suitcases out of the back of the cab first and then was carrying them to the kerb before going back for the violin when the cab, thinking he was finish, drove off... so not quite LOL 'You know... I'm sure there was something else?!?"
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:52 AM on May 7, 2008


Oh and the 100 bucks was all the cash he had on him at the time.
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 5:52 AM on May 7, 2008


What figure would you think appropriate?

The private performance he gave the driver is a nice thank-you.
posted by rottytooth at 5:54 AM on May 7, 2008


This question of why they forget came up on NPR a couple weeks ago. The "expert" claimed that it had to do with the nature of the musician's job. They become so wrapped up in their job mentally, that they simply tend to distract themselves and hence, forget.

You'd think they'd take a cue from guys with wallets on chains, though.
posted by Atreides at 7:17 AM on May 7, 2008


What I think is weirder is that these virtuoso violinists/cellists with multi-million-dollar instruments are taking taxis all over the place. Can't somebody afford to get them a car service or something? It seems the whole paying-the-fare business is stressing them into forgetting important things.

If I was loaning out my four-megabuck Strad, it'd have it's own freaking limousine. And a bodyguard.
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:29 AM on May 7, 2008


DISORDER IN THE COURT
Three Stooges, 1939

Moe: Oh, my Stradivarius, my beautiful Stradivarius. (@ 7:10)
posted by dawson at 8:11 AM on May 7, 2008


Was at a concert at Old Westbury Gardens featuring various semi-famous musicians last year and ran into a woman handling marketing for the event and other things. She was telling everyone who had listen that she had orchestrated(!) the "lost violin" of another less-than-famous musician for publicity reasons. And it worked. Got a lot of newspaper attention the previous summer..
posted by etaoin at 9:03 AM on May 7, 2008


At least he didn't accidently destroy it

Seriously, people have to take better care of the multi-million dollar things. I get all paranoid about my iPod, and that only cost me $149.
posted by SpacemanStix at 9:54 AM on May 7, 2008


I told my old man about this earlier...
"Wasn't that an episode of Taxi?"
posted by fearfulsymmetry at 11:50 AM on May 7, 2008


Sort of similar story earlier this year:

Toronto Symphony Orchestra Violinist loses a $77,000 violin, offers $1000 reward.
Animal Rescue Guy sees Bag Lady with violin, buys it off her for $35 and a shiny silver ring.
Animal Rescue Guy returns violin to Violinist, collects $1000. Keeps it all for himself.
Bag Lady got screwed.
posted by Kabanos at 1:05 PM on May 7, 2008


From the NYT article about this:

“He saw how distressed I was,” Mr. Quint said of Mr. Khalil. “He just gave it back to me and he noticed I was in no condition to go home by myself. So he said, ‘Why don’t I give you a ride home?’ I said, ‘No, no, it’s OK, I’ll take a bus, I’ll take another taxi. He said, ‘No, I’m happy to give you a ride back, because you’re my last customer.’”

As he had planned for months, Mr. Khalil retired from driving a cab the day he took Mr. Quint home.

posted by donovan at 4:48 PM on May 7, 2008


I feel like this has happened every year or two for quite a while. am I going mad?
posted by Large Marge at 5:08 PM on May 7, 2008


I get all paranoid about my iPod, and that only cost me $149.

Luckily no one writes newspapers stories when you lose your iPod.
posted by smackfu at 6:03 PM on May 20, 2008


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