an blog | AJBlog Central | Contact me | Advertise | Follow me:

The fiddlers’ fiddler: Dietmar Machold trial starts next week

In Vienna next Wednesday, the highest flying instrument dealer of recent times will be led into the dock, accused of theft and fraud to the value of $200 million. Many of the instruments he handled are missing. The well-informed David Schoenbaum tells the whole horrid story – at least, the bits that are visible and not sub judice – in today’s WashPo.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


  1. Joep Bronkhorst says:

    There’s very little new info in that story that wasn’t in Der Spiegel six months ago. But what it really shows is (a) how easy it is to hoodwink people with money, and (b) how few people are actually qualified to judge the value of top instruments. Can anyone put their hand on their heart and say they can tell a Strad from a Stainer?

    • I can tell a real Strad from a real Stainer, never even having touched one of either. That’s an easy one (for starters, the f-holes and arching are quite different). Telling a “forged” Strad (or other masterwork) from a real one is another problem. And often it doesn’t matter. There are many contemporary makers making Strad-model instruments that sound pretty much like the originals, as lately proven in scientifically conducted tests. The high-end violin market is not about music, it’s about artifacts, much like the high-end art market.

  2. Quoth Beethoven: “What care I for your wretched fiddle!”
    Musst es sein? Es musst sein!

  3. Robert Fitzpatrick says:

    I once instigated the purchase by a school of a violin made by John Lott in the 19th century as a rather good copy of a Guarnerius del Jesu. The funny thing (or sad depending on which end of the transaction you were), it had reportedly been sold twice previously AS a genuine del Jesu. What makes Machold so wicked is that he might be one of those people who actually knows the difference or has had the good sense to hire those who really know (and there are precious few worldwide as previously noted here). How many great fiddles are sitting in vaults around the world while their owners wait for appreciation and while young virtuosos have cigar boxes to play. Maybe the justice of it all is that half of them are fakes (the instruments, I mean).

an ArtsJournal blog