Skip to main content

London police searching for stolen 300-year-old Stradivarius

By Melissa Gray, CNN
A Stradivarius pictured at the restoration and research laboratory of the Musee de la Musique in Paris, December 3, 2009.
A Stradivarius pictured at the restoration and research laboratory of the Musee de la Musique in Paris, December 3, 2009.
  • The violin is stolen from outside a train station
  • It is worth $1.88 million
  • Also stolen are two violin bows, valued at more than $100,000

London, England (CNN) -- Detectives looking for a 300-year-old violin stolen from a London train station this week said Wednesday they are following up leads in the case.

The 1696 Stradivarius, valued at $1.88 million, went missing Monday night when its owner stopped at a cafe outside Euston train station in central London, the British Transport Police said.

The victim, a 32-year-old musician who wishes to remain anonymous, noticed her black, rectangular violin case was taken and called police.

Along with the violin, the case contained a Peccatte bow, valued at $97,400, and another bow, made by the School of Bazin, valued at more than $7,800, police said.

"These items hold enormous sentimental and professional value for the victim, but although they are extremely valuable, it would be difficult to sell them on as they are so rare and distinctive that they will be easily recognized as stolen property," said Detective Inspector Andy Rose.

"It's possible the instrument will be offered for sale within the antique or musical trade, and we ask anyone who has any knowledge of the violin's whereabouts to come forward so it can be returned to its rightful owner," he said.

Insurers are offering a 15,000-pound ($23,550) reward for information leading to the violin's recovery.

A British Transport Police spokesman said Wednesday there are leads in the case, pointing out Euston is heavily covered by surveillance cameras.

Investigators have also alerted the Arts and Antiquities Unit of London's Metropolitan Police and the items have been registered on the London Stolen Arts Database.

Given Euston's transport links, however, detectives said the items could already be in other major English cities, including Liverpool and Newcastle.

"Instruments like this are almost impossible to replace as they are so unique," said Sarah Ottley, manager of the Musical Instrument Division at Lark Insurance Broking Group, which is offering the reward. "However, this does mean they are easily recognizable by dealers or repairers."

Stradivarius violins were made by the world's most celebrated violin maker, Antonio Stradivari, in the 1600s.

It is thought that from 1666, the Cremona, Italy-born Stradivari made 1,116 instruments, of which more than 600 are still in existence, including violas, cellos, mandolins and guitars.

During the 18th century, his unrivalled reputation extended throughout Europe where his instruments were coveted by royalty, aristocracy, church dignitaries, and top musicians because of the extraordinary sound they were capable of producing.

Stradivari made his last violin in 1737 when he was 92.