Stolen Strad Owner Speaks

On 2/3/2014, Frank Almond posted a note on his blog, non divisi, thanking everyone for their support along with publishing a genuinely heartfelt letter from the stolen instrument’s owner.


In case you missed the big news, armed robbers attacked Almond and sole the Lipinski Stradavarius violin he was using on indefinite loan from the owner. There’s a good article by Allan Kozin in the 1/30/14 New York times but to get the full impact of how much attention this heist has generated, just do a Google search for “Lipinski Strad.”

You can, and should, read the entire statement but here are a few of the highlights worth pointing out here.

It has been my joy and privilege to own the Lipinski Stradivari in recent years. I have thought of myself more as a guardian of a treasure than an owner, a treasure that needs to be seen and heard. It has been in my family for over five decades, deeply loved and used in performance across the world. As a non-violinist, non-public figure, it has felt more natural to me to remain relatively anonymous. Not expecting the violin to participate in this tendency, I had the good fortune to find Frank to take loving care of it every day and to use his musicality and virtuosity to express his vision with its glorious voice.


Perhaps it’s appropriate to say also that I’m not part of any upper echelon, musical or other, just a person who loved her family violin with all its memories and three hundred years of history more than the many opportunities to sell it. My heart is broken.

And in case you missed the breaking news over the weekend about the $100,000 reward being offered, you can read about that in the official offer’s statement.

Additional pressure has been turned up at airports where reports of Transportation Security Administration (TSA) agents checking violins going through security gates in hopes of finding the purloined instrument are on the rise; clearly, people are taking this seriously and hopefully, the combined efforts will help lead to the instrument’s recovery.

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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1 thought on “Stolen Strad Owner Speaks”

  1. Fully agree with the ‘owner’ as he is a guardian of a fine instrument. What bugs me though is the stakes that some folks will go to in trying to find a quicker buck. The thief ought to know that a Stradivarius Violin was not the right object to swipe. Everyone from the owner to the TSA will indeed be looking for it, and if found, the guy holding it, will be in danger of jail time. I’d call him a classical music hater, but then, he probably never experienced it in the proper setting, with the thrill of a live orchestra. I am deeply saddened by the player’s loss of his instrument and I do hope it is recovered. He worked long and hard on a lesser instrument and when the time was right, folks who knew he deserved the sound of a multi-generation instrument rewarded him with the guardianship of that violin. He will be reunited with his violin, that I am sure of. But what to do about the thief? Sure, we could educate him as to why, but if he is as I suspect, a person who has broken the law many times, then no amount of jail time will cure him. My best suggestion is that the court sentences him as long as possible, depending on the state laws, and then work on his attitude toward Classical Music and Violin pieces in general. Now, if he’s a player,and he did this purely from a revenge standpoint, then the penalty needs to be extremely harsher. What I don’t know, but something akin to full onslaught of Classical Music Programming in his cell continuously. If he’s anti-classics, that will drive him looney. Meanwhile, while he’s roaming with the stolen fiddle (oops sorry!) hopefully the weight of his crime is bugging him greatly! It sure would make me cringe if I had stooped so low as to rob an artist of his tool like that.

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