|Frank Almond: Lipinski Stradivarius|
Ashley Luthern of the Journal Sentinel (Milwaukee) reports "$100,000 reward announced in Stradivarius violin theft" (January 31):
A $100,000 reward was announced Friday for a priceless 300-year-old Stradivarius violin that was stolen in an armed robbery this week. Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond was attacked with a stun gun Monday and robbed of the violin, which has been on indefinite loan to him from its anonymous owners since 2008, a common practice in the music world. The reward will be offered to anyone who can provide information that results in the safe return of the stolen violin. Officials declined to disclose Friday who, or what organization, is financing the reward.
A Milwaukee police spokesman confirmed Friday that Almond reported the robbers were a man and a woman. Investigators are reviewing security footage and following leads in the case, but no further information was available Friday.
The theft marks at least the second time the "Lipinski Stradivarius" has disappeared from public view. The violin was built in 1715 in Cremona, Italy, by famed violin craftsman Antonio Stradivari. Its first known owner was the virtuoso Giuseppe Tartini (1692-1770), known to listeners for his "Devil's Trill" Sonata. The instrument has also belonged to Polish violinist Karol Lipinski (1790-1861), whose name has stayed attached to it. In 1962, the Lipinski Stradivarius was sold to Richard Anschuetz, a pianist in New York who spent summers in Milwaukee as a child. Anschuetz purchased it for his wife, the Estonian violinist and child prodigy Evi Liivak, with whom he had performed since the 1940s, according to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. The couple performed around the world as a duo until the late 1980s. Once they stopped performing, the Lipinski Stradivarius disappeared from public view for nearly 20 years. The violin had not been heard in public until it was given on loan to Almond in 2008. The current owners, who remain anonymous, have been characterized as people with "strong ties" to Milwaukee.
Milwaukee police held a press conference the day after the theft to discuss the investigation.