You Just Can't Leave a 1710 Violin in Your Car

Art dealer was in the process of taking the instrument to a safer spot
By Bob Cronin,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 24, 2020 4:20 PM CST
Updated Dec 25, 2020 12:13 AM CST
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A vintage engraved illustration of a violin made by Nicolaus Amati.   (Getty/stocksnapper)

Rowland Weinstein wanted to put his 1710 violin someplace safer. In the process of moving it, the Los Angeles Times reports, he left the rare Amati in his white Tesla for a moment while he was in his Los Angeles home. When he came outside, they were both gone. The car had been unlocked, because Weinstein had dropped the key fob behind the driver's seat. Police suspect a car thief was working the Los Feliz area and may not have known what he was taking. When he realizes the violin's value, he might try to pawn the Amati or sell it overseas, an FBI spokeswoman said. "So it's critical to get the information to the public so that hopefully somebody who received it, or is offered it, can identify it and return it to its rightful owner." The FBI posted its request for tips here. Weinstein has put up a $25,000 reward for information.

Weinstein, an art dealer, is well aware of the violin's value, which probably is more than $700,000. He paid more than $500,000 for it in 2013, per the Times. "I'm responsible for a piece of history, and that piece of history got away from me," he said. "It's so fragile. My biggest fear is that someone who doesn’t know what they have will put it in the wrong environment and it will get damaged or destroyed." In fact, the FBI said, per the Canyon News, it's considered a work of art. The violin was still being used; Weinstein doesn't play, but he's let others who do pick it up. The director of the auction house where Weinstein bought the violin is hopeful. Stolen pieces "go off the map for years sometimes, but then they often resurface," he said. "It's really difficult to sell an instrument like this because it’s so known and would attract so much attention wherever it popped up for sale. They don’t stay stolen long." (More violin stories.)

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