One can hardly believe it…

Min-Jin Kym with her violin

It’s been a while since this happened, true, but somehow I still think about it quite a lot: In December 2010, a Stradivarius violin worth £1.200.000 (approx. 1.370.000€) was stolen in a café in London. It belonged to well-kown violinist Min-Jin Kym, a 32-year-old Korean, who was stopping by at a Prêt-à-manger to buy a sandwich. According to several sources and witnesses, she put down her bag to place her order when just a minute later it was gone. As you all can imagine, a real Stradivarius is extraordinarily valuable – in this case, the stolen instrument was made in 1696 and is one of only 450 in the whole world. The thief/thieves probably didn’t know what exactly they were stealing: Reselling the violin is close to impossible “as dealers would immediately recognise its unique label and markings”, the Daily Mail writes in its online news. (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1336271/300-year-old-violin-stolen-London-train-station-Min-Jin-Kyms-1-2m-Stradivarius-gone.html)

This is very tragic indeed, but I do ask myself why someone who is an international artist and KNOWS the value of her instrument would leave it out of sight? Honestly, I can somehow relate to this topic as I was renting a cello from a violin maker who lived 20 minutes from me. The man – about 90 years old – was just murmuring something when he handed me the “contract” which said nothing about insurance. When I asked him about the cello’s value, he just shrugged and said that it was “one of his more expensive ones… probably about 15.000€ (£ 13.000)”. I didn’t know what to say – no insurance, no hard case and he just gave it to me, a person whom he didn’t even know, a student? Oh and I forgot, for 15€ per month which is about £13, thus literally a steal.

“Excuse me, Sir, what happens if it gets damaged or broken?” – “I suppose you’ll take good care.”

And that was it. So, the long and short of it was that on my way home I was sitting in a crowded bus with people who thought I had an oversized guitar next to me, occasionally bumping into it. I think I never held on to something in fear like this before (I returned it a week later, since I had a horrible feeling to leave it alone in my flat, not to mention to take it outside with just a soft bag).

But I think you get my point. You don’t just leave something worth £1,2million lying around on the floor. Plus, a violin isn’t that big, you could have easily put it on the counter. Of course I feel sorry for Kym – every musician, whether professional or amateur, knows the emotional value of his/her instrument – but I can’t understand why she hadn’t been more careful – London isn’t the safest place on earth after all. One can just hope the instrument will show up somewhere soon.

Well, anyhow. I’d be pleased to hear what you think about this. Of course I’ll keep you updated if anything happens in this case.

Excuse my outburst, but as I said – it was something I carried around with me for some time ;)

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2 thoughts on “One can hardly believe it…

  1. I’m in awe for your courage and motivation to constantly post articles! How do you want us to comment? About your writing skills, content. Do you want our opinion on the topics??
    I guess the last, because your writing sounds like you sort of talking to everyone :)
    So yes, I quite agree with you. You can’t leave valuable things unattended in puplic. London is definitely a city full of people and in big citys thieves are never far away. And if your precious violin is in your way of sight-seeing or shopping you shall better leave it at home at a safer place.
    Do you know if she got it back?? Because if you are not familiar with violin labels you don’t know what you’ve got, do you? At least I wouldn’t know how expensive it is. And if the thieves were smart enough to find out before through internet or an expert, their only chances are black market or bringing it back and saying ‘we have found it’ so they get a reward.
    Anyways I hope she learned from it :)
    Did you find someone else with a cello you could borrow? It’s a pity that they are so expensive. Many good artist don’t have much money…
    have a nice day :)
    (don’t know ’bout the name… it’s a character in an Anime I’m watching right now… and you will see me in less a week – so I guess you know who I am :)
    <3

  2. Hello Meg,

    sure I know who you are :D At first I was like: oh my god, a foreign person commented on my blog!!! Thank you so much for commenting! Yes I’d love to hear your opinions, but also comments on my writing skills are more than welcome!

    As far as I know she didn’t get it back yet, but still, the thieves must have noticed the uproar in the musical press… even if they’re not familiar with the labels. Haha, that would be really mean to bring it back and claim the reward ;)

    I haven’t looked for a cello to borrow, actually I’m thinking of buying one. I know, they’re terribly expensive, but since I’m just a beginner, I could also do with a so-called “China-Cello”… there is a German company who imports Asian instruments, revises them and sells them for an incredibly low price (around 300€ – 2500€). But I’ll be at the International Fair for Music in Frankfurt in April and will definitely have a look there, too ;)

    See you soon!
    Stella x

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