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Will the next Strad theft succeed?

The historian David Schoenbaum thinks it might:

But there’s sure to be a next time. Online trading shows promise of finishing off the flagship shops where aspiring dealers learned to tell one instrument from another. Globalization shows promise of goldrush markets — think China — where the rich are new, expertise is minimal, the rule of law is frail and the long-awaited outburst of Strad fever is bound to arrive.

Be very alarmed. Read on here.

strad theft 1

 

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Comments

  1. I recall there is a recent case of someone knowingly having a stolen Strad and playing it in public for years. Maybe tougher to get away with now.

    Perhaps someone in China would be willing to buy such a thing but someone in China would also be eager to track it down for the bounty money.

    It’s not like a valuable but not-widely-known ancient artifact pillaged from an excavation.

  2. So a 5 million dollar Strad will be sold on-line and no one will notice?

  3. “think China — where the rich are new, expertise is minimal, the rule of law is frail and the long-awaited outburst of Strad fever is bound to arrive.”

    which is far more likely to result in fake Strads and other makes – much like fake wine – than robbery. Forgery is easier to pass off to a huge range of buyers, rather than only those who don’t mind having stolen goods.

  4. I’ve long had enough of Stradolatry and wouldn’t mind in the least if ALL Strads were taken out of action, though not by violent or criminal means. Put them all behind glass in (well guarded) museums! Such a “mass extinction” would, like that blessed asteroid that took out the dinosaurs thereby allowing mammals to flourish, finally allow the best of modern luthiers to have their works appreciated — and valued — as they should be.

  5. According to Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, the program manager of the F.B.I.’s Art Theft Program (as quoted in a New York Times article two weeks ago), “since 1985, the F.B.I. has had 11 cases of stolen violins in the United States, six of which were Strads. Of the 11, only three were known to have been recovered.” Since i personally know that at least two of the recovered ones are not Strads, that means that no more than one out of six stolen Strads has been recovered during the last thirty years. Apparently, having them “safely” distributed may be much easier than some of us would like to think.

  6. No serious violinist would spend serious money on an instrument without having played it (or without having become well acquainted with the luthier’s work if commissioning a new instrument), and preferably over several days. Online retailing would be uneconomical, since, to adequately serve the buyer, they would need to have many instruments posted (and posting a violin is far more expensive than posting a book or an electronic gadget) to them on temporary loan.

    Of course, many people buy string instruments for reasons other than to play them — I suspect this market is a far greater cause for concern.

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