Does The Name Dietmar Machold Ring A Bell?

If the name Dietmar Machold doesn’t immediately register in your mind, no worries. That likely mans you aren’t involved or watch the high end string market very closely. But long time readers might recognize his name from the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra (NJSO) golden instrument debacle from 2006 where Machold played a key role in those developments. As it turns out, Mr. Machold was recently arrested to face charges of fraud and misappropriation…

The Strad reports that Machold was arrested by Swiss police on behalf of Austrian authorities.

Violin dealer Dietmar Machold has been arrested in Switzerland. Swiss police acted on behalf of Austrian investigators, who want to extradite the German-born owner of Machold Rare Violins to Austria to face charges of fraud and misappropriation. Machold is now in custody in a Swiss jail as authorities in the two countries work out extradition procedures.

If you want to catch up on Machold’s role in the NJSO scandal (along with his partner in those affairs, Herbert Axelrod), check out Adaptistration’s article archive here that mention Machold by name.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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0 thoughts on “Does The Name Dietmar Machold Ring A Bell?”

      • Just having accomplished in putting Dietmar Machold in jail –helping a lady in distress, who had passed on ample information regarding his criminal business transactions –I was impressed regarding the opinion piece, by Ariane Todes, Failure to declare. I would like to thank the STRAD magazine for their courage to publish this piece of facts, which drives the violin business—secret kickbacks to teachers!
        To relate to the history of this practice in the violin business, I like to quote Hans Weisshaar, founder of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers, and former president of the International Society of Violin and Bow Makers [Entent], in a letter which I’ve published on our website: (line 6.)
        “If you are in business and want to sell instruments, you will find it very difficult to be successful without doing it. It has become an established and accustomed practice that has become a necessity for survival for many. And regardless of the protestations of many, this practice will survive and be part of our life, the same as prostitution in all its many forms has been part of our lives since time immemorial.”
        Most string teachers, for a price, have become the middleman in selling string instruments and bows, even though very few, if any, are able to assess the monetary value of a given instrument or bow. When purchasing a violin, as well as other string instruments, it is a classical BLIND PURCHASE. Since the extrinsic monetary value is basically determined by authenticity and physical condition, the string teacher can only assess the intrinsic and subjective beauty of sound, which is in the ear of the listener. Taste varies!
        Thankfully, not everyone has the same taste! When kickbacks are added to the equation, the string teacher – by his/her demonstrating their superior playing ability -can modulate the sound of any instrument. They can sway any listener the way they prefer by making a particular instrument sound good or bad on purpose, mostly based -and dependent -on the amount of kickback the dealer is offering.
        Therefore, low priced instruments bought in a traditional music store would have very little kickback possibilities at 10% to 20% markup of the sales price. The real money is with old and antique instruments and bows. With antique instruments and bows, the teacher –not qualified to assess the monetary value based on authenticity and physical condition -is in the position to negotiate the kickback amount. The dealer who pays the most gets the sale! This is one of the reasons why string teachers prefer their students to purchase older instruments -there is more money to be had from the sale. The amount of markups can be up to 50% of the sales price and is being paid to those string teachers who know the racket.
        Only collectors are in the market for premium antique instruments -most of them are wealthy connoisseurs enjoying their hobby. ANTONIUS STRADIVARI made and sold NEW instruments –which follows that students and players would find greater value in an instrument made by a modern day maker.
        All of this reminds me of a statement made by the well known string teacher, Professor Jamie Laredo of the Curtis Institute: “A great player can make a cigar box sound great.” Also, it again calls to mind an undisputed principle and physical law — that of entropy, — “The inevitable and steady deterioration of a system or society.”
        Also, witness the testimony of Professor Colin Gough: “Science has not provided any convincing evidence for the existence or otherwise of any measurable property that would set the Cremonese instruments apart from the finest violins made by skilled craftsman today. Indeed, some leading soloists do occasionally play on modern instruments. However, the really top soloists — and, not surprisingly, violin dealers who have vested interest in maintaining the Cremonese legend of intrinsic superiority — remain utterly unconvinced.”
        Excerpts from Professor Colin Gough’s “Science and the Stradivarius,” April 2000. Colin Gough is at the School of Physics and Astronomy, University of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2TT, UK
        The kickbacks have become systemic within the violin business as seen by Hans Weisshaar’s comments “accustomed practice that has become a necessity for survival” (see quote above). With other instruments like trumpets, clarinets, trombones, etc., one needs the latest creations of instrumental craftsmanship available today. Why not with string instruments? The answer is greed. When decisions go contrary to scientific evidence –just follow the money (i.e. kickbacks).

        Violin Maker, Forensic Appraiser (and Whistle Blower)

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