Classical musician Min-Jin Kym, the British Transport Police, and Stradivarius lovers can rest easy tonight knowing that a high-profile case of violin theft has finally closed.
More than two years after it was stolen in London, Kym’s $1.8 million violin has been recovered by the British Transport Police. The 1696 Stradivarius had been stolen in 2010 while Kym was eating lunch at a Pret-a-Manger in Euston Station.
The police found the violin in a property in the Midlands, England, along with its two bows. According to the police, the $95,000 Peccatte bow, the $7650 bow made by the School of Bazin, and the violin itself are in good shape, having only suffered some “very minor” damage.
Korean-born Kym, 35, described the ordeal as a “very difficult journey.” In a BTP video she said, “Every moment of the day and even when I was sleeping, it was always there at the back of my mind: the loss of the instrument, the responsibility.”
Following the theft in 2010, the BBC’s Crimewatch released a public appeal for help along with surveillance footage. John Maughan, a 40-year-old traveler, and his two accomplices were jailed for the theft in 2011. They had allegedly tried to sell the instrument for about $150 at a café near Euston Station. The instrument, however, was not recovered at the time of Maughan’s arrest.
There were investigations of an instrument believed to be Kym’s Stradivarius in Bulgaria earlier this year. But – to the police and Kym’s disappointment – it turned out to be a replica that was no more than 100 years old. It is, however, the real instrument that has been recently recovered.
Kym has been “on cloud nine” since the recovery of her instrument. “This had been the instrument I’d been playing on since I was a teenager, and so it was a huge part of my identity for very many years,” Kym said. She describes “this incredible feeling of elation which hasn’t left.”