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18 September 2012, 10:25
Dietmar Machold stands accused of illegally selling fake Stradivarius violins for large amounts.
Violin trader Dietmar Machold is set to stand trial this week in the biggest case of fraud in the violin trade's history. Machold faces charges for allegedly selling down-market instruments as rare antique models worth millions of dollars. If convicted, he could face up to ten years in prison.
After building up his violin trade business over the 1990s (reportedly dismissing any instruments worth under $90,000), Machold began passing off cheap instruments as rare and expensive Stradivarius models.
In total, the criminal damages and civil charges against him add up to over $200m. Machold's assets were liquidated after he filed for bankruptcy in 2010, including the 14th century castle he was living in. His debts at the time totalled over $40m.
The trial begins on Wednesday in Vienna, Austria.