Federal investigators are busy this Christmas season looking for a ‘grinch’ who stole a white Tesla that had an antique, 18th century violin said to be worth as much as $900,000 inside the vehicle which was left unlocked by its owner.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is asking for the public’s help in locating the vehicle and a 1710 Amati violin that was taken by a thief in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles on December 8.
The instrument, which is made of curly maple and alpine spruce, was said to be in excellent condition at the time it was stolen, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Auction records indicate that the violin was sold in 2013 for slightly more than half a million dollars. If it were placed on auction today, it would likely fetch anywhere between $700,000 and $900,000.
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is asking for the public’s help in locating the vehicle and a 1710 Amati violin that was taken by a thief in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles on December 8
The instrument, which is made of curly maple and alpine spruce, was said to be in excellent condition at the time it was stolen
The violin was made by Girolamo (Hieronymus) Amati II, the great-grandson of Andrea Amati, who is considered the inventor of the modern violin
The violin was made by Girolamo (Hieronymus) Amati II, the great-grandson of Andrea Amati, who is considered the inventor of the modern violin.
It belongs to Rowland Weinstein, an art dealer and gallery owner who splits his time between Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Weinstein allowed his musician friends and professional violinists to play the instrument.
On December 8, he left the violin in his white Tesla sedan which was parked outside of his home and on his property in Los Feliz.
That’s when someone opened the door, took the violin, and fled.
The violin’s owner, art dealer Rowland Weinstein, said he left it in his parked Tesla just outside of his home in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles. Weinstein is seen above in New York City in September 2014
Weinstein told the LA Times that his car key accidentally slipped out of his pocket and landed behind the driver’s seat.
The automatic lock mechanism works only when the driver takes the key and exits the vehicle.
Since the key fell, the doors to the Tesla were unlocked.
According to the Times, Weinstein transported the violin because he thought that the previous location where it was stored was not secure enough.
He had only planned on leaving the violin inside the car momentarily. When he returned, he noticed that the car was gone and then called police.
FBI spokesperson Laura Eimiller said that so far authorities have not been able to track down either the vehicle or the violin.
Eimiller said that it is possible a car thief was in the area and that the instrument was not the intended target.
‘According to LAPD, a car thief is believed to have been in the area,’ Eimiller said.
‘It’s possible that the person who stole it may not have known the value and discovered it [later] and may try to pawn it or sell it overseas.
‘So it’s critical to get the information to the public so that hopefully somebody who received it, or is offered it, can identify it and return it to its rightful owner.’
Weinstein is offering a $25,000 reward to anyone with information leading to the safe return of the violin.
He told the Times that he was ‘heartbroken’ over the theft.
‘I’m responsible for a piece of history and that piece of history got away from me,’ Weinstein said.
This is the second time that Weinstein has been targeted by thieves. In 2011, Mark Lugo of Hoboken, New Jersey walked out of Weinstein’s gallery in San Francisco having taken a 1965 Pablo Picasso pencil drawing, ‘Tete de Femme.’
‘It’s so fragile. My biggest fear is that someone who doesn’t know what they have will put it in the wrong environment and it will get damaged or destroyed.’
In October 2013, Weinstein paid $507,436 for the violin after it was auctioned for sale at Tarisio, an online auction house.
Tarisio’s director, Jason Price, told the Times that rare instruments appreciate annually.
If the 1710 Amati went up for auction today, it could fetch up to $900,000, according to Price.
Two years ago, another Amati violin that was made sometime around the year 1700 sold at the Ingles & Hayday auction house in London for $917,453.
The Amati family of Cremona, Italy, is known as the inventors of the modern violin.
This particular violin was created during the ‘golden period’ in violin-making.
Although Weinstein is not a musician, he feels a sense of historical responsibility for the artifact given the family’s role in its creation.
‘I’m the caretaker of it,’ Weinstein said.
Lugo, pictured above, served 16 months in prison for the theft
‘I feel extremely close to it because it’s a part of history that has touched so many lives.
‘Not just the lives of people who have been lucky enough to play it, but those who have heard it over 300 years.’
This is the second time that Weinstein has been targeted by thieves.
In 2011, Mark Lugo of Hoboken, New Jersey, who is known as the ‘Thomas Crown of art thieves,’ walked out of Weinstein’s gallery having taken a 1965 Pablo Picasso pencil drawing, ‘Tete de Femme.’
The artwork was recovered by authorities a short time later and Lugo was arrested. He was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
Weinstein said he is dumbfounded that he has been targeted by thieves twice.
’It’s beyond anything I’d ever anticipated,’ he said.
‘I just hope the violin has the same happy ending as the Picasso.’
The FBI is continuing to investigate the case, Eimiller said, and asks that anyone with information call (310) 477-6565.