Roman Totenberg’s Stradivarius Recovered

It’s rare to get away with stealing a Stradivarius, but that’s exactly what happened with Roman Totenberg’s 1734 Ames Stradivarius in 1980 – the thief, a currently unnamed and deceased man suspected by Totenberg all along until the musician’s death, left the instrument to a family member who had it appraised back in June only to discover its dark past.

Of course the appraiser alerted authorities and the violin has been restored to its rightful owners, the Totenberg family.  Nina Totenberg, daughter of the prodigious violinist, is a legal affairs chief for NPR and will report the recovery of the instrument today on those airwaves, and there will also be a news conference later today by the FBI team that the appraiser called in upon discovering the instrument.

Made in 1734, the Ames is one of the newer Stradivari instruments.  Roman Totenberg doted on the instrument, of course, and its loss 35 years ago was a heartbreak.  His family plans to loan out the instrument so it can start to get back some of its old glory “in concert halls all over the world.”  Now THAT’S how you know you’ve got a good owner for your violin of note.

Thanks to the New York Times for breaking the story.

Thanks for reading.



  1. Did you hear NPRs report on this today? Nina Totenberg fittingly reported on it.

  2. Julie Libel · · Reply

    Fascinating story!

  3. I didn’t hear the NPR story – glad you did! It’s a good story – Totenberg himself lived to be over 100 but died just a few years ago.

  4. […] latest chapter in the story of the Ames/Totenberg Stradivarius has just begun.  The Totenberg family sold the instrument after […]

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