Stolen violin worth $250,000 sold to pawn shop for just $50 in Boston

8 August 2018, 13:06

By Maddy Shaw Roberts

A 1759 violin worth an estimated $250,000 was stolen from a home in Massachusetts, and sold to a local pawnshop for $50.

The violin, designed by prolific Italian violin maker Ferdinando Gagliano in 1759, was stolen from a couple’s home in Somerville, Massachusetts on 20 July, while they were sleeping.

According to police, the violin later turned up in a pawn shop in Boston. An employee at the LBC Boutique and Loan in Davis Square, Boston paid $50 for it. The instrument has since been returned to its owner.

“We got a call from a detective from the Somerville Police Department,” Dylan McDermitt of LBC Boutique and Loan told Boston 25 News. “This particular [seller] had no criminal background history.”

McDermitt says pawn shops are required by law to hold pieces for 30 days, in case they are discovered to be stolen.

“We’re going to start asking the customers to play the violins to make sure that we know it’s theirs,” McDermitt said.

Gagliano was one of the most admired violin makers working in Naples, Italy, in the late 18th century. He was the son of Nicolò Gagliano, who trained his sons and other violin makers in his workshop.

Christopher Reuning, who owns Reuning & Son Violins, a violin shop in Boston, told the New York Times it was not uncommon for stolen violins to be sold to pawn shops at a very low price. “Stolen violins are impossible to sell,” he said. “People usually think they are a guitar.”