Stolen 300-year-old violin recovered in good condition

MILWAUKEE -- A 300-year-old Stradivarius violin valued at $5 million has been found in good condition more than a week after it was stolen from a concert violinist in Milwaukee, according to police.

The violin was found in a suitcase in the attic of a home on the east side of the city, Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said at a news conference.

Mayor Tom Barrett called it a "wonderful day," saying the case "was a model of cooperation with the FBI working closely with the police department."

The violin was found at the home of one of the three suspects arrested earlier this week, according to the Fox television station in Milwaukee.

The Stradivarius was stolen from violinist Frank Almond, a lecturer at Northwestern University’s Bienen School of Music, on Jan. 27. The robbers used a stun gun on the musician after a concert at Wisconsin Lutheran College in suburban Milwaukee.

The Lipinski Stradivarius, as it is known, had been on loan indefinitely to Almond. Days after the robbery, an anonymous donor offered a $100,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of the violin, the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra said.

On Monday, police arrested three suspects: Two men, 36 and 41, and a woman, 32. Flynn said police tracked down the violin through tips and information received from Taser International about the stun gun.

Made in 1715, the violin has a fair replacement value of $5 million for insurance purposes, according to Darnton & Hersh Fine Violins, which were designated curators of the instrument when it was loaned to Almond in 2008 by its owner.

The Lipinski is one of roughly 600 violins, violas and cellos still in existence that were built by the famed Italian artisan Antonio Stradivari.

A similar Stradivarius violin sold at auction for $2.3 million in December, according to the BBC.

Police said the Lipinski is to be returned to the owner later Thursday. Almond is scheduled to play a recital Monday night.

The Journal Sentinel reports that one of the three suspects was convicted in an art theft from nearly 20 years ago.

The suspect, a 41-year-old Milwaukee man, was accused of stealing a $25,000 sculpture from a downtown art gallery in 1995 and then trying to sell the piece back to the gallery's owner four years later, the paper reporter.

The statue, "Woman with Fruit" by Nicolas Africano, was stolen from the Michael Lord Gallery in the Pfister Hotel on Nov. 7, 1995.

From the Chicago Tribune