Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Stolen Lipinski Violin Found

News pages have recently been awash in stories about Frank Almond’s stolen Lipinski Stradivarius violin.  On the evening of January 27, 2014, he was attacked with a stun gun while leaving a concert venue near the city of Milwaukee and the thieves (a man and a woman, according to Almond) quickly ran off with the violin, which he dropped - due to the shock – at the very spot he was approached.  Almond was apparently not unduly physically injured.  The papers have been saturated with stories and the FBI and Interpol have become involved with the expected hope that the violin may become impossible to sell or even to show because of the publicity.  I predict it will not reappear for a very, very long time.  My own theory is as follows: This was a very deliberate theft and well-planned.  The attackers were merely hired guns who quickly turned over the violin to another person whom I shall call an intermediary – a professional smuggler, if you will.  The exchange probably took place within minutes of the actual theft – I’m guessing no more than thirty minutes.  The smuggler would have made a fast run (by car or truck or some other inconspicuous vehicle) for the Canadian border - the most likely crossing point being Detroit.  The smuggler would have driven during the night and been in Detroit before 7 a.m. on Tuesday.  He (or she) would have waited for the most opportune time to cross into Windsor but well before the news of the theft was broadcast.  Once in Canada, the most likely place to hide a violin like that would be Montreal.  The problem of getting it out of Canada would be someone else’s and not the smuggler’s – most likely a broker for a trusted ally of the end buyer.  I’m guessing that the buyer is known only to his (or her) trusted ally.  At this time, I’m guessing the violin is still in Montreal and will remain there until sometime in the spring or early summer.  It is unlikely the violin would be stashed in a small city because moving it from place to place presents further risk of being discovered.  If it’s not smuggled out of Montreal (or Toronto) by mid-June, it will have to wait until mid-September and beyond.  The reason for that is that the easiest way to transport an instrument without arousing curiosity is in the midst of traveling groups – most likely chamber ensembles of ten to fifteen players.  Most of these ensembles include violinists who carry their instruments as carry-ons or in luggage compartments.  Walking a violin into a plane under those conditions would be easy for someone pretending to be part of a touring group or even as an independent traveling musician traveling on the same plane as the group, especially if the broker is knowledgeable about classical music or is a violinist – I will assume an amateur violinist, of course.  Concert activities slow down considerably after June but pick up again after September – a person would have to be quite stupid to try to smuggle something like this during the off season.  By April, the attention being paid to this stolen violin would have died down a lot and the time for the broker to act would be ripe.  If I were Interpol, I would be watching every touring ensemble coming into and leaving Montreal (and Toronto as well) for the foreseeable future.  I would also be reviewing video of all border crossers into Windsor on that Tuesday morning.  The final destination of the Lipinski is probably Japan.  It could also be Russia.  The transit points would most likely be Berlin, London, or Paris.  Of course, all of this is pure conjecture on my part – for all I know, at this very moment, the Lipinski might be in somebody’s house in Milwaukee.  This newspaper article contradicts pretty nearly everything I have theorized here. 

1 comment:

  1. Well,.... Our Lipinski violin has been found and the culprits apprehended, so - OBVIOUSLY - the caper was NOT well-planned. The papers said the "mastermind" had been thinking about this for many years!!! He did not consider that if he kept the violin in the city for more than a few hours, it would be found. Better luck next time. :-)