The mystery of the location of a stolen 17th century Stradivarius violin was solved on Thursday, February 6. Milwaukee Police and the F.B.I. are to thank for the return of the violin to the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra’s concertmaster, Frank Almond.
The facts surrounding the theft of the violin and its recovery are entertaining and cinematic. On January 27, the violin was taken from Almond after a chamber concert performance. The assailants attacked Almond with a stun gun and used a mini van to drive away with the $5 million antique. Aside from the initial shock of the stun gun, Almond is in healthy condition. The same can be said for the condition of the recovered violin, which perhaps has a little magic from its 300 years. The violin was discovered through a lead hiding in the attic of an unknowing third party. There are currently 3 suspects in custody associated with the felony robbery of the violin. The motive and history behind the main suspect, harkens to The Thomas Crown Affair.
Salah Ibin Jones, 41, is the primary suspect in the investigation. He is being questioned along with Universal Knowledge Allah, 36, and an unnamed woman, 32. Jones’ ambition for art theft seems to have grown since his first conviction. A $5 million historical violin will undoubtedly deal a harsh sentence, if Jones is successfully charged. Surprisingly, the case of the missing Stradivarius violin is not the first mystery solved involving Jones. In 2010, Jones was convicted of possessing a statue from an art gallery inside the Pfsiter Hotel which had been missing since 1995. The statue was valued at $25,000 at the time it was taken.
Police theorize that Jones’ plan was to keep the violin hidden for a couple of years, then resurface it for sale. However, any attempts to sell the instrument would be conducted in vain. This particular Stradivarius violin has been meticulously documented. It boasts a deep history, making it impossible to sell publicly. Moreover, if someone were to purchase the piece privately, they could never display it. Art theft is priceless when history is a factor. In light of the violin’s priceless nature, it seems likely that Jones has a fascination with art theft instead of art pawning. Jones is not alone in his taste for fine art. It is doubtful that Jones’ case will be the last to feed a story about stolen art found in attics.
Although the violin has been recovered, it is not yet home with its original owner. Almond is in possession of the violin as a loaner from its principal owner, for the purpose of musical performance. Created in 1715, the Stradivarius violin has been heralded for its lifelong quality of sound. Little research has proven a profound difference in sound quality between the Stradivarius and other high-end violins, however, the rich history in the craftsmanship and performance of Almond’s loaner make the violin’s return something to be celebrated. Almond and music lovers around the Midwest look forward to the violin’s return to the stage on February 10. The violin mystery may be solved, but there are many other attics to be searched.
By Victoria Chuidian