$100K reward for stolen Stradivarius violin

File photo of police emergency lights.
File photo.

APPLETON- A development Friday in the case of the $6 million violin that was stolen in Milwaukee this week.

Now, there is a $100 thousand reward, for its return.

A local professor who knows the victim is lending her perspective.

“I sat right next to Frank Almond for eight years, so we spent a lot of time playing with one another and just talking, sitting next to each other,” said Lawrence University violin professor Samantha George.

George is still trying to process why her friend was essentially mugged for his 6 million dollar violin Monday evening.

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Frank Almond was carrying what’s known as the Lipinski Stradivarius through a parking lot after a performance at Wisconsin Lutheran College in Wauwautosa.

Two men approached him, tasered him, and took off with the violin.

“You do not expect people to appear and tase you out of nowhere to get your violin. That is not on your radar as you are coming out of a concert,” she said.

George says when a violinist plays an instrument, it becomes like a part of them.

“You’re spending eight hours holding this thing and it becomes like a child to you and you can’t imagine your life without it,” said George.

The missing violin dates back to 1715.  It was made by Italian master crafter Antonio Stradivari, and is one of only a few hundred in the world.

Almond doesn’t own the instrument. He’s played it on loan from an anonymous owner since 2008.

Friday, an anonymous source stepped forward offering a $100 thousand reward.

George says trying to turn a profit on a violin like this would be like trying to resell a stolen Mona Lisa.

“You can’t take the violin anywhere to sell it. And then, say you’re stealing it just so you can play it and enjoy it in your house. You’re going to need repairs at some point. You can’t take it to any repair person because every single repair person is going to recognize that violin,” said George.

So who took this centuries-old masterpiece? That remains the six million dollar question.

The reward is offered to anyone who can provide information which results in the violin’s safe return.

MSO president and executive director Mark Niehaus says they are hopeful the reward will help in the violin’s recovery.

Milwaukee Police Lt. Mark Stanmeyer says they are continuing to investigate and haven’t made any arrests. Milwaukee police can be reached at (414) 935-7360.

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