Ames Stradivarius

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The Ames Stradivarius of 1734 is an antique violin, made by the Italian luthier Antonio Stradivari of Cremona. It is one of only 450–700 known[1] extant Stradivarius instruments in the world. The Ames receives its name from violinist George Ames who owned it and performed with it in the late nineteenth century.

The Ames Stradivarius was sold to Polish-born American violinist Roman Totenberg in 1943, for $15,000 (equivalent to $208,000 in 2016),[2] and it was his only performance instrument for almost the next four decades. It was stolen from Totenberg by his former student Philip Johnson in May 1980, from his office at the Longy School of Music of Bard College, where he was then the director.[3][4] Totenberg died in 2012.

Johnson frequently played the violin, including in public, but it was never recognized. Johnson's former wife discovered the Stradivarius in his belongings and attempted to sell it in 2015, not knowing the violin's origin and value. After a dealer identified it and contacted the FBI, the violin was returned to Totenberg's daughters Nina Totenberg, Amy Totenberg and Jill Totenberg in August 2015.[5] The heirs said that they planned to sell the instrument after it has been restored to playing condition. According to Nina Totenberg, "we’re going to make sure that it’s in the hands of another great artist who will play it in concert halls all over the world."[6]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "How many instruments did Stradivari make?". The Independent. 4 April 2007. Retrieved 28 June 2011. 
  2. ^ "Stolen Stradivarius violin found 35 years later". BBC. 6 August 2015. Retrieved 6 August 2015. 
  3. ^ "Strad Valued at $250,000 Stolen". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. May 16, 1980. 
  4. ^ Forrest, James (July 1987). "Legacy of Experience". The Strad. London. 
  5. ^ Edgers, Geoff (17 March 2016). "The violin thief". Washington Post. Retrieved 19 March 2016. 
  6. ^ Cooper, Michael (2015-08-06). "Roman Totenberg's Stolen Stradivarius Is Found After 35 Years". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-09-10. 

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