The Lipinski Stradivarius has been recovered. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports two of three people involved in the heist are in custody. The New York Times identifies them as Universal Knowledge Allah and Salah Ibin Jones. Jones is identified as the primary suspect; he was also convicted about 15 years ago for the theft of a high-profile sculpture in Milwaukee. In stealing the Lipinski, Allah, a local barber, allegedly provided the stun gun, Jones allegedly committed the heist, and a third person was also arrested – a woman who allegedly drove the getaway car. I have yet to see her named. The violin was recovered in the attic of a house in Milwaukee in a suitcase, apparently in fine condition. It will be evaluated by Chicago-area violin consultants – experts on fine and rare instruments.
Lipinski steward and Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Concertmaster Frank Almond gives high praise to the Milwaukee Police Department for its handling of the case. They worked closely with him throughout the ordeal, and the police chief called Almond personally when the instrument was recovered. Almond expressed his gratitude in many ways, including an offer – “The chief can have as many free violin lessons as he wants!” Almond will be reunited with the instrument sometime today. He and the Lipinski Strad’s owner, an anonymous Milwaukee area woman, have been in very close contact since the instrument was stolen; the two were already close, but the heist has brought them together in a way that only crises can.
I’m very happy for Almond and for the owner. I must admit that I have thought about the story of the heist and the way it will ultimately add to the historical allure of the piece. Though I felt a bit guilty to be thinking about it in that way, so was Almond – the Journal Sentinal reports that “He agreed that as time goes, the theft and safe return of the Lipinski Strad adds another chapter to its life, an instrument played by Tartini and Lipinski and one that survived a revolution in Cuba.”
The Lipinski Stradivarius turns 300 years old next year, and I think it will have a wonderful birthday.
Thanks for reading,