A thief stole a rare 18th-century violin that is said to be worth more than $ 700,000 in California – and he may not even know it, according to the Los Angeles Times.
The 1710 crumpled maple and alpine spruce instrument – built by Hieronymus Amati II, one of the most famous violin makers in history – was inside art dealer Rowland Weinstein’s car, which was stolen from his LA residence on December 8, according to the report.
The art dealer said he moved the violin from a previous location that he felt was not safe enough when he accidentally left his white Tesla unlocked for a moment as he entered his house. When he returned from inside, the car and the valued property were gone.
An FBI spokeswoman, Laura Eimiller, told the newspaper that the agency has no leader in the case.
“According to the LAPD, a car thief is believed to have been in the area,”
Weinstein is offering a $ 25,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of the violin.
“I’m in charge of a piece of history, and the story came from me,” Weinstein told the outlet. “It’s so fragile. My biggest fear is that someone who does not know what they have will place it in the wrong environment and it will be damaged or destroyed. “
Weinstein purchased the violin in October 2013 for $ 507,436 from auction house Tarisio. The auctioneer says the value of the instrument is likely to appreciate $ 700,000- $ 900,000 today, according to the LA Times.
The gallery owner told the newspaper that he does not play the violin, but lets musician friends and professionals play the 310-year-old instrument, which is in excellent condition.
“I feel very close to it because it is a part of history that has touched so many lives. Not just the lives of people who have been lucky enough to play it, but those who have heard it for over 300 years, Weinstein reportedly says.
Weinstein has been targeted by thieves before.
In 2011, a 1965 Pablo Picasso pencil drawing, “Tête de Femme”, was stolen from his San Francisco gallery by a Hoboken man who accidentally walked out of the gallery with the art hidden under a newspaper. The suspect was later arrested and the art was restored.
Experts say there is reason to be optimistic in this matter as well.
“This does not appear to be a planned theft, it appears to be a fact-based crime, so it is potentially still in Los Angeles, possibly in someone’s home,” Berkeley Law lecturer and violin maker Carla Shapreau told the newspaper . .
“When a theft is planned, there is often a customer for it. When someone sees a car unlocked, they are more likely to try to pass [an item found inside] locally. But it would be difficult to transfer this into the flow of trade, especially if it is well published. ”