Following our reporting of the stealing of Min-Jin Kym’s Stradivarius violin, three people have now pleaded guilty to the theft.
The £1.2m ($1.95m) instrument was stolen while Min-Jin Kym was distracted in a London sandwich shop, and the case has highlighted how classical music performers travel the world with instruments worth thousands – and occasionally millions – simply hanging by their sides.
Few people would dream of carrying around cash or wearing jewellery to the value of even the bow that was also snatched last December – that alone was worth about £62,000 – never mind the 300-year-old violin itself!
What may also be hard to grasp is that most musicians’ strategy for looking after these incredibly precious instruments comes down to little more than common sense.
“Make sure you personally accompany your instrument at all times,” says an advice sheet from Lark Group, specialists in music instrument insurance. “Make sure that it is always in your line of sight.”
Thefts of instruments are rare says Suzanne Beney, Lark’s head of marketing, and usually carried out by opportunists with no idea of the items’ worth. In fact, the most precious instruments have almost zero sell-on value; they are simply impossible to re-sell because they are so recognisable.
And it seems that, for most musicians, they are happy to follow this common sense advice of keeping the instrument with them. Violinist Stephen Bryant, leader of the BBC Symphony Orchestra, admits to always resting a foot on his violin case whenever he has it with him in a pub or restaurant.
But musicians also speak of a heightened sense of awareness towards their instrument, based on an extraordinary bond beyond that with any ordinary possession.
“They are objects of devotion for musicians,” says Bryant. “You are carrying about something that is very valuable but you are also carrying about something that you are emotionally attached to as well, because it’s your way of expressing yourself.”
There is no doubt that Min-Jin Kym will be overjoyed to be reunited with her instrument, and will be sure to never let it out of her sight again!
Source: Stephen Robb, BBC News, 3rd March 2011
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