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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. … [Read more...]

Is a Stradivarius just another fiddle?

Dietmar Machold, Geigenhändler und Kunstmäzän, Eichbüchl 2006

In the current issue of Standpoint, I look at the vexed questions of instrumental values. Why is a pedigree fiddle, affordable until recently on a orchestral salary, now the plaything of bankers and speculators? Who has been making a killing? Why do violin dealers and luthiers keep getting hauled into court and jail? Why, only yesterday....     Why do violins - and no other instruments - get onto the nightly news? Why has David Schoenbaum's excellent social … [Read more...]

Just in: Well-known violin dealer is charged with larceny


Connecticut media are reporting that Charles Magby Jr., owner of Charles Magby Fine Violins Ltd., has been charged with first-degree larceny. Police say they have received complaints from customers who deposited instruments with Magby for sale or repair and have been unable to get them back. The instruments range  in value from $3,000 to $100,000+; they include violins, cellos and bows. Magby, 63, has been released on $50,000 surety bond. He has traded in the US and internationally for … [Read more...]

Update: The great Stradivarius swindler is jailed for six years

Dietmar Machold, Geigenhändler und Kunstmäzän, Eichbüchl 2006

Dietmar Machold, 63, was found guilty today in Vienna of fraud involving precious violins. He was sentenced to six years in jail. More than a dozen instruments are still missing. The sentence was shorter than than maximum ten years as the judge, Claudia Moravec-Loidolt, took his late confession into account. Many who trusted Machold with their instruments will, however, be disappointed that no fuller explanation was forthcoming of his many frauds and fiddles. Machold, at his peak, lived … [Read more...]

Which world famous conductor was middleman for jailed violin dealer?

Dietmar Machold, the Austrian violin dealer with a taste for fine castles, had his bail application rejected again this week. He's being held on multiple theft and fraud charges and apparently struggles to remember the whereabouts of 17 or 18 Stradivarius instruments. Terrible thing, selective memory loss (known these days as Murdoch Syndrome). But there might be someone who can help him. In a report on his remand hearing, der Standard mentioned an 'internationally renowned foreign conductor' … [Read more...]

The light and dark sides of the late Geoff Fushi


The first appreciation of Geoff Fushi, the man who made Chicago a byword for Stradivarius, appears today in, and fine piece it is, too, by our friend Laurie Niles. photo (c) 'Geoff was not your average violin dealer,' his daughter tells Laurie, and that's a fact. Fushi, who died at the weekend, was a violin dealer who dined Chinese with a future US president. He was also - and this is the dark bit - together with his his late partner Robert Bein (d. 2007) … [Read more...]

Violin dealer sent to Vienna for trial

The flamboyant violin dealer Dietmar Machold will not face the mercies of Swiss justice. Machold, who declared bankruptcy last year, was arrested in Switzerland ten months ago on charges of fraud and embezzlement. Five Stradivarius and four Guarnerius are among 17 instruments, worth $50 million, that the authorities in both countries would like to trace. Machold lived the high life in a Schloss. His expectations will be rather lower now. He was transferred at the weekend to Vienna, where … [Read more...]

Breaking: priceless violin collection gone missing (update)

Austrian police say they cannot trace five Stradivarius violins, four Guarnerius del Gesu and eight other precious instruments, as well as valuable bows, that were supposed to be in the possession of the controversial dealer Dietmar Machold. Machold was arrested in Switzerland five months ago and faces extradition to Austria, where he is accused of embezzelement and fraud. The instruments were thought to be his collateral against creditor demands. An international search has been called. … [Read more...]

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