Stolen Stradivarius recovered in England

Min-Jin Kym

Nearly three years after a Stradivarius was stolen while its owner dined on a $4.50 sandwich in a London train station, the $1.9 million violin has been recovered.

The instrument belonged to internationally acclaimed violinist Min-Jin Kym.

The violin was recovered with minor damage from a property in Central England late last month after British Transport Police “acted on a line of enquiry.” Further details about the investigation were not disclosed.

Kym was eating at a train station with her boyfriend on Nov. 29, 2010, and had placed the black case holding the Stradivarius and two bows valued at more than $100,000 on the floor next to her. A couple of minutes later, it was gone.

A 32-year-old man and two teens were arrested in 2011 in connection with the theft, but the Stradivarius was not recovered at that time.

However, English officials believed that it had not been taken from the country and focused their search within the UK, according to a press release issued by British Transport Police.

“Kym bought the violin in 2000 for $1.14 million, her life savings,” according to The History Blog. “She had been playing the Stradivarius since it was first loaned to her when she was a teenager (her international debut was with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra when she was just 13 years old).

“She had the instrument insured by Lloyd’s Canopius Group for the amount she paid for it, but over the decade it had increased in market value, and most importantly, it was priceless to the artist, part of her identity as a musician and a precious treasure to the musical world that she felt herself a custodian of more than just an owner,” it added.

The 1696 Stradivarius violin that belonged to Min-Jin Kym.

The 1696 Stradivarius violin that belonged to Min-Jin Kym.

The violin appears to be in good condition, with only minor damage visible. It is being kept at an undisclosed London location where experts are assessing its condition.

Since the insurance company paid Kym for the loss after the theft, it is now the technical owner of the violin. Insurance officials are working on a deal so that Kym can buy her instrument back.

Not surprisingly, Kym was ecstatic over the recovery of the instrument.

“The loss of the instrument and the acute responsibility I felt, was at the back of my mind at every moment of the day,” the Korean-born violinist said.

“I’ve now gone from devastation to the other end of the scale – an incredible feeling of elation that hasn’t left me. I’m still feeling the butterflies in my stomach and am on cloud nine.”

Antonio Stradivari (1644-1737) was an Italian luthier and a crafter of string instruments such as violins, cellos, guitars, violas and harps. He is generally considered the most significant and greatest artisan in this field.

It is estimated that he made 1,000 to 1,100 instruments and that around 650 of these instruments survive today, including approximately 512 violins.

(Top: Korean-born artist Min-Jin Kym shown playing her 1696 Stradivarius before it was stolen in 2010. Photo credit: Business Insider.)


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