Even Without Machold, There Are Plenty Of Black Hats To Go Around

Alix Krista authored a detailed account of the rise and fall of violin dealer Dietmar Machold which appeared in the 10/19/2012 edition of businessinsider.com. It will be surprising if Machold emerges from the legal process without some jail time but even though he’s is, for all intents and purposes, out of the game that doesn’t mean the rare instrument trade is clear of bad guys.

black hatLong (long) time readers know that yours truly was the very first source to cast suspicions on the Machold brokered deal that funneled a collection of Golden Age string instruments into the hands of the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra. As it turned out, those suspicions hit the target dead center (and even generated a series of lawsuit threats from some powerful folks until other sources began confirming the very same details) and one of the articles from that classic series provided an overview of the rare instrument trade as it existed in 2004.

Titled Violin Turf Wars, it paralleled the landscape of instrument dealers to that of the old west except the violin version had comparatively more black hats. It’s interesting to juxtapose Krista’s wonderfully detailed article against that post then consider whether Machold’s fall from grace means that law and order now rule the land of rare instrument dealers or if there’s still plenty of might-makes-right to go around.

What do you think?

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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