A violin that thieves tried to offload for £100 ($160) may end up selling for £2 million ($3.2 million), reports the Guardian.
The 317-year-old instrument spurred a three-year police hunt that spanned international borders, ending with its recovery from a property in central England this year. Reports highlighted the guilt felt by the violin's owner, the British prodigy Min-Jin Kym, who was eating at a London train station cafe when the violin was snatched from her.
(AP Photo/British Transport Police)
One of about 600 surviving violins made by Antonin Stradivari, the so-called "ex-Kym" dates before the famous luthier's golden period, from 1710-20. Speaking to the Guardian, Jason Price, director of the Tarisio auction house, where the violin is now held, framed its age as a market advantage. Before 1700, Stradivari experimented with body lengths and proportions:
"This 1696 violin is, however, of normal proportions and is more or less the model Stradivari settled upon to use for the rest of his career. Interestingly, instruments from this pre-1700 period probably have more of Stradivari himself in them. In the later periods Stradivari was in his 70s and, although he was active and working, it is clear he had a very productive workshop, with his sons and others assisting in the output."
Price also praises the "sensational maple" wood used on the instrument's back. A blog post on the Tarisio site suggests that this is the same "magnificently flamed maple" used to build the Archinto, one of only two playable Stradivarius violas in existence.
The ex-Kym goes up for auction in December. Some portion of the proceeds are reportedly earmarked for the police officers who found it.
UPDATE: Readers have rightly pointed out that this story leaves a question unanswered: why was the violin not returned to its original owner, Min-Jin Kym? According to the Guardian report, the violin is no longer the property of Kym, who went on to purchase a 1705 Stradivarius after the theft. The auction house director Jason Price added that he's not at liberty to identify the present owner.
Rotterdam Art Heist
File - This photo released by the police in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012, shows the 1971 painting 'Harlequin Head' by Pablo Picasso. Romanian authorities have arrested three suspects in last year's multimillion euro (dollar) theft of paintings by Picasso, Matisse, Monet and others from a Netherlands art gallery, Dutch police said Tuesday, Jan. 22, 2013, but the stolen works have not been recovered. The seven pieces were swiped by thieves in October in a late night raid at the Kunsthal gallery in downtown Rotterdam. It was the biggest art theft in more than a decade in the Netherlands. The stolen works have an estimated value of tens of millions of dollars if they were sold at auction, but art experts said that would be impossible following the theft. (AP Photo / Police Rotterdam, File)
Notices posted at the entrance of the Paris Museum of Modern Art, in Paris, saying that the museum is closed for technical reasons, following the report of five paintings having been stolen, Thursday May 20, 2010. Police and prosecutors say a lone thief has stolen five paintings worth a total of Euros 500 million ($613 million), including works by Picasso and Matisse and Modigliani. (AP Photo/Jacques Brinon)
Zurich Art Theft
In this undated file photo released Monday Feb. 11, 2008 by Swiss Police, a reproduction of the Edgar Degas painting "Ludovic Lepic and his Daughter", one of four paintings by major artists which were stolen from the private E.G. Buehrle Collection, in Zurich, Switzerland. A Rotterdam museum art heist this week netted paintings by Pablo Picasso, Claude Monet, Henri Matisse and others but it's not the first time that money-conscious thieves with an eye for beauty have targeted famous multimillion-dollar canvasses. (AP Photo/Keystone, Stadtpolizei Zuerich via Foundation E.G. Buehrle Collection, File) MANDATORY CREDIT
Double Picasso Theft
Paris, FRANCE: Picture taken 28 February 2007 of the front of the Paris home of Pablo Picasso's granddaughter where two Picasso's paintings worth a total of 50 million euros were stolen. The works, a painting of Picasso's daughter called 'Maya with Doll' and a portrait of his second wife Jacqueline, were stolen in the night of 26 February to 27 February 2007 from the apartment in Paris' upmarket seventh district. AFP PHOTO STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN (Photo credit should read STEPHANE DE SAKUTIN/AFP/Getty Images)
Rio de Janeiro Art Heist
This painting by Claude Monet was stolen from the Museu Chácara do Céu, Rio de Janeiro, in 2006, together with three other works by Pablo Picasso, Salvador Dalí, and Henri Matisse. The paintings haven't been recovered yet.
Oslo, NORWAY: (FILES) -- A file photo provided 23 August 2004 shows Edvard Munch's 'Madonna,' which was stolen 22 August 2004 with another painting 'The Scream' from the Munch Museum in Oslo by armed robbers. Edvard Munch's masterpieces 'The Scream' and 'Madonna', stolen in a dramatic 2004 heist from an Oslo museum, have been recovered, Norwegian police said on Thursday. AFP PHOTO / SIDSEL DE JONG / SCANPIX (Photo credit should read SIDSEL DE JONG/AFP/Getty Images)
Da Vinci Theft
DUMFRIES, UNITED KINGDOM - OCTOBER 05: The Duke of Buccleuch stands in the hall of Drumlanrig Castle, where a Leonardo de Vinci painting was stolen in 2003, on October 5, 2007 in Dumfries, Scotland. Police have today recovered 'The Madonna with the Yardwinder' painting from a solicitor's office in Glasgow. (Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images)
Van Gogh Museum Art Heist
Policemen remove a rope, used by thieves to leave early, 07 December 2002, when they left Amsterdam's Van Gogh Museum, where they stole two paintings of the famous Dutch impressionist Vincent Van Gogh. (Photo credit should read TOUSSAINT KLUITERS/AFP/Getty Images)
Stockholm National Museum Theft
Hooded thieves stole a self-portrait by Rembrandt and two Renoir paintings worth an estimated $36 million from Stockholm's waterfront National Museum in December, 2000 using a motorboat in their escape. All paintings were recovered.
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum Robbery
United States Attorney Carmen Ortiz, right, stands next to a poster that shows a Rembrandt painting and a reward, left, while facing reporters during a news conference at FBI headquarters in Boston, Monday, March 18, 2013. The FBI believes it knows the identities of the thieves who stole art valued at up to $500 million from Boston's Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum more than two decades ago. (AP Photo/Steven Senne)