Stolen Stradivarius found in Milwaukee


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MILWAUKEE -- The rare multimillion-dollar Stradivarius violin stolen last month from a concert violinist in Wisconsin has been recovered, police said Thursday.

The violin was found in a suitcase in the attic of a Milwaukee residence overnight Wednesday, city Police Chief Edward Flynn said.

Citizen tips and information about the stun gun used in the theft led to the arrests of three people, Chief Flynn said.

Two men, ages 41 and 36, and a woman, 32, are in custody, according to prosecutors. Milwaukee District Attorney John Chisholm said one suspect would likely be charged Friday morning and others could be charged after that. He said charges were delayed because prosecutors had been negotiating with one suspect for the return of the violin.

Police said one of the suspects has a previous art theft conviction.

"It appears we had a local criminal who had an interest in art theft and was smart enough to develop a plan for a robbery," the chief said. "Beyond that, we don't know what his motive was."

The instrument was taken from the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra's concertmaster, Frank Almond, in a brazen attack outside Wisconsin Lutheran College on Jan. 27.

Mr. Almond, who also teaches music at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill., was walking to his car after a performance when someone jumped out of a van, shocked him with a stun gun and seized the Stradivarius, which was on loan to him. The robber got back into the waiting vehicle, which sped off.

The violin was crafted in 1715 and has been appraised for insurance purposes at $5 million. Its value comes from its high-quality sound and the fact that only about 600 Stradivarius instruments still exist, experts said.


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