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Man leaves £180k violin on train


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[big]Man leaves £180k violin on train[/big]

[smaller]Page last updated at 09:30 GMT, Monday, 14 April 2008 10:30 UK

BBC News[/smaller]

A £10,000 reward is being offered for the return of a valuable 17th Century violin which was left on a train.

Robert Napier, from Wiltshire, had just had the 1698 Venice-made Goffriller valued by a London dealer at £180,000 ($355,000 / €225.000).

He got off a Paddington to Taunton train at Bedwyn on 29 January with the family heirloom still on board.

"It was just one of those terrible moments when I realised, as the train was steaming off, that I had left it on the train," he said.

Moment relived

Despite raising the alarm soon after and a search being made of the train at Taunton station, the violin has not been found.

"I put it on the luggage rack above my seat and when I got to Bedwyn, got off the train and I simply left it. I had my briefcase and coat, how I normally travel," said Mr Napier.

"I've relived the moment. I think when I put it on the luggage rack I thought I couldn't possibly forget it, and I didn't want to appear different. I was trying to behave normally."

Mr Napier jointly owns the instrument with his two brothers and two sisters, who inherited it from their mother, Elizabeth Hunt, from Wellington, Somerset.

During WWII, she performed with it entertaining troops as a member of an ensemble called the Ebsworth Quartet.

Later, she took the violin on travels abroad to India, Africa and Germany.

The missing Goffriller, together with a bow stamped R Sartory, were in a rectangular case with a brown cover.

Insurance company Allianz has offered a reward of up to £10,000 ($20,000 / €12,500) for the return of the instrument.

Edited by Guest
added values in $ and €
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It must be contagious...this is from today's newspaper:

Newark cabbie's find is music to violinist's ears

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

BY JEFFERY C. MAYS

Star-Ledger Staff

It took 18 months for Philippe Quint to persuade a wealthy philanthropist to lend him a 1723 Antonio Stradivari "Ex-Keisewetter" violin valued at upward of $4 million.

Early Monday, it took less than a minute for the valuable instrument to disappear after Quint left it in a Newark cab.

The centuries-old stringed instrument sat in the third-row seat of the minivan cab as it was parked overnight on a Newark street. The next morning, it went along with a fare to Kearny, then to Queens and even through a motor vehicle inspection.

All the while, cab owner Mohamed Khalil was unaware that the violin was in his cab and that Quint was frantically searching for it.

When Quint was finally reunited with the prized instrument at Newark Liberty International Airport on Monday afternoon, the violinist dropped to his knees and shed tears of joy.

"He hugged me, he cried, he said he couldn't believe it. I didn't even know what was in the bag," said Khalil, 58. "He said, 'This violin is my life and it belongs to someone else.'"

Quint, 34, is a Russian-born, Grammy-nominated violinist. He defected from what was then the Soviet Union in 1991 and is now a U.S. citizen. He declined to be interviewed, but in a statement issued through his publicist, said he was "incredibly grateful" to Khalil.

"He has become my hero," Quint said in the statement.

Quint said he put his luggage in back of the minivan after arriving from Dallas, where he performed at a private fundraiser for Music in the Mountains Festival, and kept the violin inside the cab with him when Khalil picked him and a companion up at Terminal C at about 12:30 a.m. Monday.

Quint was dropped off at Battery Park City in Manhattan. After collecting the $52 fare, tolls, an $8 tip and a handshake, Khalil drove off.

I)nstantly, I realized my violin was still in the car," Quint said in the statement.

Quint is in good company among absent-minded musicians. World-famous cellist Yo-Yo Ma left a $2.5 million, 1733 Montagnana cello in the trunk of a New York City taxi in 1999. Police recovered it a few hours later.

Quint's violin is on loan from the personal collection of Clement and Karen Arrison, whom Quint met in Buffalo a few years ago. The philanthropists regularly lend out their instruments to up-and-coming artists and decided to do the same for Quint in 2006 following an 18-month e-mail courtship. One condition of the contract is that Quint pay the $6,000-per-year insurance and perform three free concerts at the Arrisons' home or a venue of their choosing, usually a charity affair.

The Arrisons could not be reached for comment yesterday, but Geoffrey Fushi, chairman and co-founder of the Stradivari Society in Chicago, the group that helped to arrange the loan, said the couple had heard about the incident and were understanding.

After the ill-fated cab ride, Quint, frantic to find the violin, immediately called the Port Authority and Newark's Taxi Commission. At 9 a.m., he was in the commission office looking at photos of drivers. By then, the word had gone out to drivers to look for the case, said Hector Corchado, head of Newark's taxi division.

Khalil was at Newark Airport about to put the taxi out on another shift when another driver asked whether anything had been left in his taxi. Khalil checked and saw the case. Minutes later, Quint arrived.

"Almost immediately after he handed me the violin, I collapsed on the ground exhausted and drained and ... fellow drivers consoled me," said Quint, who gave Khalil a $100 reward.

Khalil's kindness and honesty doesn't end there. When he found out Quint was taking public transportation home, he gave the violinist a ride back to New York City in his personal car.

Khalil, a married father of three adult sons studying at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, is himself an immigrant from Egypt. He arrived from Cairo in 1980 and moved to New Jersey a few years later and launched his own cab company. Quint said he plans to have Khalil and his family as guests at a Carnegie Hall concert in September.

Despite the congratulations and handshakes, Khalil brushed off the praise with the grace of a world-class artist.

"When you deal with the public, you have to be honest. Even if it was worth $10 million, it doesn't belong to me," Khalil said.

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