Authorities discovered the prized string instrument inside a
suitcase in the attic of a home on the city's south side late
Wednesday night, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said during a
news conference at police headquarters.
The recovery of the violin came after the arrest on Monday of
three unidentified suspects, one of whom police said has a
history of stealing art in Milwaukee.
"At this point it appears we have a local criminal, who was very
much interested in art theft and who was smart enough to
identify this as a valuable instrument," Flynn said.
The 300-year-old instrument was being held at the city's police
headquarters and will be returned to its anonymous owner on
The so-called Lipinski Stradivarius had been on loan
indefinitely to Milwaukee area concert musician Frank Almond,
Made in 1715, the instrument can be distinguished by unique
striations on its back.
Early last week, thieves incapacitated Almond with a stun gun
and took the violin following a concert in suburban Milwaukee,
One of the three suspects arrested on Monday could be charged as
soon as Friday, Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm
said. Chisholm did not say whether the other two suspects would
Police traced the stun gun allegedly used in the robbery back to
one of the trio of suspects, Flynn said.
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The owner of the house where the instrument was
found told authorities that one of the suspects had asked to leave
the suitcase there and the homeowner agreed, unaware of what was
inside, according to Flynn.
One of the suspects served time for stealing a $25,000 sculpture
from an art gallery in 1995 and trying to sell it back to the owner
four years later, according to the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Almond said in a statement he looked forward to
having it back in his hands as soon as possible.
"We have very strong confidence that the violin is fine," said Mark
Niehaus, the president and executive director of the Milwaukee
The violin has a fair replacement value of $5 million for insurance
purposes, according to Darnton & Hersh Fine Violins, the designated
curator of the instrument when it was loaned to Almond in 2008 by
The Lipinski is one of roughly 600 violins, violas and cellos still
in existence that were built by famed Italian artisan Antonio
A similar Stradivarius violin sold at auction for $2.3 million in
December, according to the BBC.
(Reporting by Brendan O'Brien; editing
by Colleen Jenkins, Peter Galloway and Cynthia Osterman)
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