Police Recover Stolen $5 Million, 300-Year-Old Stradivarius Violin

Milwaukee cops arrest three suspects for assault and robbery

violin, Stradivarius violin, stolen, recovered
The 1715 Stradivarius violin cops recovered from a Milwaukee home Photo via Milwaukee Police Department
Kyle McGovern WRITTEN BY
Kyle McGovern

A nearly 300-year-old Stradivarius violin that was stolen in a January assault has turned up. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports that police discovered the instrument, which dates back to 1715 and is valued at $5 million, in a suitcase in the attic of a Milwaukee home. Cops arrested three suspects — two men, ages 36 and 41, and a woman, age 32 — on Monday afternoon. The three are still in custody.

The theft went down on January 27, when Frank Almond, concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, was attacked with a stun gun after performing a chamber concert with the violin at Wisconsin Lutheran College. Local law enforcement authorities teamed with agents in the FBI's Art Theft Program and members of Interpol (not that Interpol), and, with information from Taser International, were able to track the stun gun to one of the three suspects, Universal Allah. A separate tip led police to another suspect, Salah Jones, who was previously convicted in the 1995 theft of a $25,000 statue (via Milwaukee Journal Sentinel).

"It could have been incredibly sophisticated or incredibly banal," Milwaukee police Chief Edward Flynn said of the robbery, speaking at a press conference on Thursday. "This one is somewhere in between." Flynn added that, "At this point, we don't have any indication that [the suspects] were working for anyone but themselves."

Almond told the New York Times that the instrument — which is also known as the Lipinski Strad, a name it takes from the Polish violinist who owned it in the 19th century — was found in good condition.

The Milwaukee County district attorney's office is expected to file charges against the suspects on Friday.

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