Bienen lecturer’s nearly 300-year-old violin stolen in Milwaukee

Tyler Pager, Assistant Campus Editor

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A nearly 300-year-old Stradivarius violin was stolen from a Bienen lecturer on Monday after he performed at a concert in Milwaukee.

Frank Almond was walking to his car after he performed with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at Wisconsin Lutheran College when he was shocked with a taser, fell to the ground and dropped the violin. The Lipinski violin, which was built in Italy in 1715, was on loan to Almond, the orchestra’s concertmaster. 

“The artistic heritage of Milwaukee was assaulted and robbed,” Milwaukee Police Chief Edward Flynn said at a news conference Tuesday. “This violin is very valuable, but very valuable to a very small population. This is not something that can be easily sold for even a fraction of its monetary value.”

Flynn said the violin could be worth seven figures and has a special design on the back. Police believe the violin was the target of the robbery. There are fewer than 700 Stradivarius violins in the world. 

“This, theoretically, could be an international crime,” Flynn said.

Mark Neihaus, president of the orchestra, said Almond was recovering from the incident but would not be performing this weekend.

“We continue to play these instruments in the tradition that they were built in and the instruments need to be played to live on,” Neihaus said at the news conference. “So, that’s why these instruments are out in circulation and why they’re played on stages all over the country.”

It was the only Stradivarius in Milwaukee, he added. 

Almond has been on the faculty at NU since 2010, and since 1997, he has been a part of the Grammy-nominated chamber group An die Musik. He will join the faculty of Chicago College of the Performing Arts at Roosevelt University in the fall of 2014, according to Roosevelt’s website.

Twitter: @tylerpager