Stolen Stradivarius Violin Has Been Recovered, Milwaukee Police Confirm

Instrument, Discovered Wednesday Night, Appears To Be Unharmed

The Stradivarius violin used by Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond, which was recovered on Wednesday night by Milwaukee police. Photo: Michael Darnton

The Milwaukee Police Department confirmed at a Thursday press conference that they have found a Stradivarius violin stolen in a robbery last week, and that the instrument appears to be in good shape.

It’s not often that the Federal Bureau of Investigation puts on a happy face in public. But G.B. Jones, acting special agent in charge with the FBI in Milwaukee, did so when announcing that the violin was recovered from a Milwaukee home on Wednesday night.

“Good afternoon, and thank you very much for coming here to celebrate with us the thrill of this victory,” said Jones, opening the conference.

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Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn also seemed in a good mood when he was asked about the condition of the recovered violin, made in 1715 by Antonio Stradivari.

“I think it looks pretty damn good for a 300-year-old,” joked Flynn. “It doesn’t look a day over 250 as far as I can tell.”

Flynn was more serious as he described how information from one of the three suspects arrested Monday night led to a search of the dwelling where the violin was found, protected inside a suitcase. Flynn also suggested a major break in the case was being able to trace taser “confetti” – tiny identification tags left by the stun gun used 10 days ago – during the robbery of Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra concertmaster Frank Almond, who performs with the Stradivarius.

Flynn said based on the evidence so far, it looks like the theft was a local job.

“We have not as yet, working with our federal partners, developed any information that indicates there was some scheme involving nefarious third parties of shadowy art crime organizations,” said Flynn.

Flynn said one of the suspects had stolen artwork in the 1990s and was caught when he tried to sell the item a few years later. Criminal charges against at least one of those in custody are expected on Friday.