After 35 Years, a Stolen Strad Reclaimed
August 6, 2015 4:21 PM   Subscribe

If the Totenbergs collected insurance when the violin was stolen, does the recovered violin now belong to the Totenbergs or the insurance company?
posted by Jackson at 5:00 PM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

According to the NYT article, the family has "repaid the insurance company," and will now sell it to a worthy musician.
posted by Melismata at 5:08 PM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

Do you know, it never crossed my mind to look at the byline until they named the daughters? But really, how many Totenbergs can there be?
posted by Diablevert at 5:31 PM on August 6, 2015 [5 favorites]

While I totally get musicians' appreciation for a top-notch instrument, I can't imagine the stress of having something so expensive yet so portable. It would break my heart to have something like that stolen from me.
posted by Greg_Ace at 5:40 PM on August 6, 2015

Portable, but also fragile and sensitive to improperly humidified air, and yet as a master violinist you pretty much have a duty (to humanity) to take it out and subject it to mechanical stress for several hours a day... If I were ever put in that position I would be a paranoid wreck within weeks, as surely as if I had run across a malicious genie. I have nothing but respect for musicians who work with instruments like that.
posted by No-sword at 5:46 PM on August 6, 2015 [10 favorites]

Given the price increase in Stradivarii since 1980, it was probably insured for a relatively modest sum, a hundred thousand or so. So it probably made financial as well as a sentimental sense to repay the company and claim the violin.
posted by tavella at 6:36 PM on August 6, 2015 [2 favorites]

When I saw this story in the Times this morning, it ran under this lede:

"It was a cold case for more than three decades — a cold violin case — but now it has been closed."

Alas, I see that there has been some ex-post-facto editing.
posted by mr vino at 6:52 PM on August 6, 2015 [4 favorites]

What a joke. The guy stole it and then realized he'd never be able to play it, or sell it, or keep it maintained properly because anyone important would immediately realize there's no way this schlub came into this violin legitimately. If he was smart he would've made a nice recording of him playing it for his own amusement then anonymously shipped it back to the victim.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 9:09 PM on August 6, 2015 [1 favorite]

Or else made a nice recording of himself murduring Twinkle Twinkle Little Star, and shipped that to the victim with a ransom note reading:
10 thousand OR nexT time it's CHOPstiX
posted by Pinback at 11:30 PM on August 6, 2015 [9 favorites]

I have sitting before me a violin given to me, when I was 11 years old, by my great-uncle (he was about 90 when he passed along to me). Inside is a label that identifies it as a Strad. I have never had it authenticated, I never will..... Every once in a while I take it out of a very worn case, play "Amazing Grace" and then put it away...
posted by HuronBob at 4:54 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I half expected the story to be like a real life version of The Red Violin even though she said it's not a bizarre story.
posted by numaner at 5:44 AM on August 7, 2015

HuronBob, not to break your heart but I wouldn't hold your breath you have a real Stradivarius. From the article: "That's because, while there are only about 550 Stradivarius violins in existence today, there are thousands and thousands of violins that have a "Stradivarius" label stamped inside them — some of them good copies, and some just cheap imitations."
posted by crazy with stars at 9:16 AM on August 7, 2015

I once held a real one! Before they called it quits, I met the Tokyo String Quartet and they played on a matched set of strads once owned by Paganini.
posted by Poldo at 10:07 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

I refuse to listen to foolish ideas like that, crazy with stars...
posted by HuronBob at 11:08 AM on August 7, 2015 [1 favorite]

HuronBob -- at the risk of shattering cherished illusions, so many violins have a Stradavarius label in them. It doesn't mean it's a Strad, just that it's made in the style of a Strad. (It's typical for violin makers to use the templates of famous violins when creating new ones, which is why this is done -- it's not necessarily to fool anyone, just a marker that it's a violin modeled on a Strad.) My first violin, a circa $500 student model from Romania, had a Stradavarius label in it. Underneath the stamp was the signature of the actual maker.
posted by Peregrine Pickle at 1:43 PM on August 7, 2015

Peregrine Pickle... I refuse to listen to foolish ideas like that...
posted by HuronBob at 9:40 PM on August 7, 2015

Seriously, Stradavarius is such a famous and well-regarded design that virtually every violin made since a couple of French copycat luthiers popularized it (until very recently) is based on it. I've got one laying around too that had that tag- it also had a stamped paper tag that says "Made in Germany"(Lol, that's a Strad all right,) one day I noticed that a corner was peeling up and there was another tag under it. I thought they'd accidentally glued two down and it'd slipped past quality control at the factory. Nope- I pulled the other tag up a little bit and the one under it said "Made in China".
posted by mcrandello at 2:48 AM on August 10, 2015 [2 favorites]

...And I guarantee that even a well trained ear would not be able to tell the difference between me playing that pile of matchsticks and a real Stradavari, so it may as well be one far as I'm concerned...
posted by mcrandello at 2:51 AM on August 10, 2015

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