Musician elated at recovery of £1.2m Stradivarius violin
A virtuoso violinist has spoken of how she went from “devastation to elation” after police recovered her £1.2m (€1.38m) Stradivarius, more than two years after it was stolen from a sandwich bar at London’s Euston station.
Min-Jin Kym said she still was still experiencing “butterflies in my stomach” after detectives revealed they had tracked down the stolen 300 year-old violin at a property in the Midlands.
Police refused to disclose further details of the recovery, but said the instrument was found intact with “very minor damage”.
It followed disappointment in March when Bulgarian police seized a violin which they believed to be the stolen instrument, and although it was marked with the Italian master’s name later examination revealed it to be a copy which was less than 100 years old and of limited value.
British Transport Police (BTP) said the latest find had been “verified” with experts and was now being held in a secure location.
Ms Kym, 35, said: “The theft was a crushing blow and the detectives in the case had always, quite rightly, been very careful not to give me false hope. When they told me the good news, it didn’t feel real.
“I’ve now gone from devastation to the other end of the scale – an incredible feeling of elation that hasn’t left me. I’m still feeling the butterflies in my stomach and am on cloud nine.”
She added: “It’s been a very difficult journey. I still can’t quite believe what has happened.
“The loss of the instrument, and the acute responsibility I felt, was at the back of my mind at every moment of the day. I’d played the instrument since I was a teenager, so it’d been a huge part of my identity for many years.”
The Stradivarius was recovered in its case along with Miss Kym’s missing £62,000 Peccatte bow and a second bow made by the School of Bazin, valued at over £5,000.
The violin - one of only 450 in the world of its kind - was stolen from a branch of Pret-A-Manger at Euston station while Miss Kym stopped for something to eat at around 9pm on November 2, 2010.
John Maughan, the thief, used two teenage accomplices to distract the musician as she chatted to her boyfriend.
Maughan tried to sell the instrument to a bus driver who told him “my daughter’s already had a recorder”.
The thief told police the identity of his accomplices, aged 14 and 16, and was jailed for four and a half years, but the violin was not recovered until last week, BTP said today.
Detective Chief Inspector Simon Taylor, who led the hunt, said: “We’re absolutely delighted to have recovered the Stradivarius violin after a long and very complex investigation.
“Though it took some time to successfully locate and recover the violin, we were confident it had remained in the UK.
“I always maintained that its rarity and distinctiveness would make any attempt to sell it extremely difficult, if not futile, because established arts and antiques dealers would easily recognise it as stolen property.”
Miss Kym, who was born in South Korea, began playing the violin aged six and made her international debut with the Berlin Symphony Orchestra when she was 13.
She became the youngest ever musician to receive a foundation scholarship at the prestigious Royal College of Music at the age of 16.