Stradivarius violin stolen in stun gun attack recovered

Authorities say the rare, multimillion dollar Stradivarius violin stolen last month from a concertmaster in Milwaukee has been recovered.

2 men and 1 woman in custody

Concertmaster Frank Almond plays a 300-year-old Stradivarius violin that was on loan to him, during a concert in Milwaukee. Police say three people have been arrested in connection with the theft of the multi-million-dollar instrument, which may have been recovered. (The Associated Press)

Authorities say the rare multimillion dollar Stradivarius violin stolen last month in Wisconsin has been recovered.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett praised investigators at a news conference Thursday for their work in recovering the violin. The instrument was taken from concertmaster Frank Almond in a brazen attack outside Wisconsin Lutheran College on Jan. 27.

Prosecutors confirmed Wednesday that three people have been arrested in connection with the theft. Two men, ages 41 and 36, and a 32-year-old woman, are in custody and could be in Milwaukee County Circuit Court Thursday.

Almond was walking to his car following a performance at the college when someone jumped out of a van, shocked him with a stun gun and seized the Stradivarius, which was on loan to him. The robber got back into the waiting vehicle, which sped off.

Almond was knocked to the ground but wasn't seriously hurt. He was devastated by the loss of the violin, which was crafted in 1715 and has been appraised for insurance purposes at $5 million US. The owner of the violin has not been revealed.

The case in which Almond kept the instrument was found, and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra announced someone was offering $100,000 for the instrument's safe return.

The violin is known in musical circles as the "Lipinski" Stradivarius. Its previous owners include virtuoso Giuseppe Tartini, who was known for his Devil's Trill Sonata, and Polish violinist Karol Lipinski.

It was passed down through generations, eventually landing with the heirs of Estonian violinist Evi Liivak, according to Stefan Hersh a Chicago-based violin curator who helped restore it to playing condition after it was removed from storage in a bank vault in 2008.

Estimates vary for the number of Stradivarius violins that still exist, said Lisbeth Butler, the secretary of the American Federation of Violin and Bow Makers. Most experts believe that 600 to 650 remain.