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2 violins stolen in L.A. are recovered in Paris

An American living in Amsterdam reportedly was trying to sell the rare instruments, taken from the home of a Philharmonic musician.

March 12, 2007|Howard Blume | Times Staff Writer

Two valuable violins, stolen from the home of a Los Angeles Philharmonic musician, have been recovered in Paris, where the alleged thief was trying to sell them, authorities said Sunday.

There is no word on the condition of the instruments, with a combined value of nearly $300,000.

"Our fingers are crossed," said Adam Crane, director of public relations for the Los Angeles Philharmonic Assn. "We don't know the condition of the instruments at this point. But we're excited they were recovered. We will feel very happy when the violins are back in our possession."

A Los Angeles Police Department spokesman confirmed the recovery of the instruments Thursday in Paris, but said that no more information, including the name of the alleged thief, would be released until a news conference to display the instruments could be scheduled.

A burglar stole the violins Dec. 23 from the home of Mark Kashper, who holds the seat of associate principal second violin in the Philharmonic. The more valuable violin, owned by the symphony, is an 18th century Tononi worth about $225,000. The other, Kashper's own, is a Vuillaume valued at about $65,000. A Tourte bow with one of the violins also is highly prized, and worth an estimated $30,000.

The thief ransacked the bedroom of Kashper and his wife, also taking some jewelry and an old wallet, but leaving behind other valuables, including computer equipment.

Police are not releasing any information on whether the burglar acted alone, or even knew the value of the violins at the time of the theft. When the instruments first disappeared last year, a detective speculated that the burglary was the work of an individual, rather than an organized ring.

Kashper, who was rehearsing or performing throughout most of Sunday, could not be reached for comment.

The Associated Press reported that word of the theft had spread among American and European violin dealers. The owner of a Paris violin shop alerted police when a man recently tried to sell the two violins for $65,000.

The report identified the would-be seller as an American who lives in Amsterdam, who claimed he bought the instruments from someone he didn't know.

The Tononi violin was one of 13 loaned instruments, including four Stradivariuses, being used by Philharmonic musicians.

The last celebrated instrument theft in Los Angeles occurred in April 2004, when a $3.5-million Stradivarius cello disappeared from the front steps of the home of a musician who had forgotten to bring it inside.

A woman later spotted the instrument near a trash bin in Silver Lake and returned it to the orchestra.

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howard.blume@latimes.com

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