(Adds details from police chief, district attorney, statement
By Brendan O'Brien
MILWAUKEE Feb 6 A rare Stradivarius violin
worth millions of dollars that was stolen from a concert
violinist in an armed robbery last week has been recovered from
a Milwaukee residence, law enforcement officials said on
Authorities discovered the prized string instrument inside a
suitcase in the attic of a home on the city's south side late
Wednesday night, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said during a
news conference at police headquarters.
The recovery of the violin came after the arrest on Monday
of three unidentified suspects, one of whom police said has a
history of stealing art in Milwaukee.
"At this point it appears we have a local criminal, who was
very much interested in art theft and who was smart enough to
identify this as a valuable instrument," Flynn said.
The 300-year-old instrument was being held at the city's
police headquarters and will be returned to its anonymous owner
The so-called Lipinski Stradivarius had been on loan
indefinitely to Milwaukee area concert musician Frank Almond,
Made in 1715, the instrument can be distinguished by unique
striations on its back.
Early last week, thieves incapacitated Almond with a stun
gun and took the violin following a concert in suburban
Milwaukee, police said.
One of the three suspects arrested on Monday could be
charged as soon as Friday, Milwaukee County District Attorney
John Chisholm said. Chisholm did not say whether the other two
suspects would be charged.
Police traced the stun gun allegedly used in the robbery
back to one of the trio of suspects, Flynn said.
The owner of the house where the instrument was found told
authorities that one of the suspects had asked to leave the
suitcase there and the homeowner agreed, unaware of what was
inside, according to Flynn.
One of the suspects served time for stealing a $25,000
sculpture from an art gallery in 1995 and trying to sell it back
to the owner four years later, according to the Milwaukee
Journal Sentinel newspaper.
Almond said in a statement he looked forward to having it
back in his hands as soon as possible.
"We have very strong confidence that the violin is fine,"
said Mark Niehaus, the president and executive director of the
Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra.
The violin has a fair replacement value of $5 million for
insurance purposes, according to Darnton & Hersh Fine Violins,
the designated curator of the instrument when it was loaned to
Almond in 2008 by its owner.
The Lipinski is one of roughly 600 violins, violas and
cellos still in existence that were built by famed Italian
artisan Antonio Stradivari.
A similar Stradivarius violin sold at auction for $2.3
million in December, according to the BBC.
(Reporting By Brendan O'Brien; Editing by Colleen Jenkins,
Peter Galloway and Cynthia Osterman)