Stolen €250,000 Gagliano violin, sold by thief for just €200, recovered by police 3 years later
11 August 2022, 16:45 | Updated: 11 August 2022, 16:49
Despite arresting the thief after the crime took place in 2019, the 18th-century violin has remained missing, until now...
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A stolen 18th-century Gagliano violin worth €250,000 was recovered during a police raid in a Berlin apartment at the end of last month.
The valuable violin was stolen from one of Berlin’s conservatoires, the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler Berlin, in March 2019. Built in 1769, the string instrument was made by master luthier, Nicolò Gagliano, in Naples, Italy.
The Berlin police were searching the raided apartment as part of a different investigation, and weren’t expecting to the find the missing musical instrument.
According to the Berlin public prosecutor's office, the apartment raid was part of an investigation into grievous bodily harm allegations against five men, aged 22 to 33. Included in these men was the original thief of the violin, named by the German press as Berthold S., and the man he sold the violin to.
The apartment belongs to Berthold’s mother, and the 77-year-old woman is now part of the investigation.
Berthold was caught soon after the crime took place however, he had already sold the violin to his buyer, for a reported €200 to feed an alleged drug habit. It was obvious he had no idea of the real value of the 18th-century instrument.
According to court proceedings, Berthold and his accomplice entered the Hochschule on 11 March 2019 originally to steal a bike, but instead found an open door. Berthold is said to have left the building carrying the violin, which was removed from its case, under his jacket.
Berthold told the court that he did not know where the instrument was, and said, “Maybe someone is now playing with it on the subway”.
He was sentenced to two and half years in prison in 2020.
As well as the violin, the police also confiscated one knife, a baton, three kilograms of drugs and a device for manipulating car speedometers in the recent apartment raid.
At the time it was stolen, the violin was on loan to a scholarship holder at the conservatoire from the German Foundation of Musical Life (Deutsche Stiftung Musikleben), a non-profit supporting young musicians.
Hopefully the priceless instrument can return to the hands of a deserving young musician now that the violin has been returned.