Stolen Stradivarius Cello Found Damaged in L.A.
from Yahoo News, May "04
By Gina Keating
LOS ANGELES (Reuters)
A Los Angeles nurse found a stolen $3.5 million Stradivarius cello next to a dumpster and was going to
have it turned into a CD cabinet until she learned it was an instrument the whole town was searching
for, officials said on Tuesday
The "General Kyd" cello, made in 1684 and named for the man who brought it to England, suffered only
minor damage and will be returned to the musician who lost it three weeks ago after forgetting
it on his front porch, Los Angeles Philharmonic Association officials said. The cello was stolen
from the porch of the Philharmonic's principal cellist Peter Stumpf by a thief riding a bicycle,
police said. Three days later, nurse Melanie Stevens found it beside a dumpster about a mile from
Stumpf's home on her way to visit a patient. Stevens, 30, turned the cello over to police last weekend
after seeing a TV news report about the theft -- the first in the Los Angeles Philharmonic's history,
"Last night, the Los Angeles Philharmonic was reunited with a member of its family, our
great General Kyd Stradivarius," Philharmonic president Deborah Borda said at a Tuesday news conference
at Walt Disney Hall. "When I announced this to the orchestra there was an enormous cheer that went up."
Stumpf said General Kyd's return made him "probably the happiest man in Los Angeles today." "I'm just
incredibly relieved the cello has been found. It's been an enormous weight on me for the last three weeks,"
he said. Stumpf, the orchestra's tenured cellist, will continue playing General Kyd as soon as it is
repaired, Borda said.
The cello was returned with cracks that string repair technician Robert Cauer called "routine." Cauer,
who has worked on the cello for 20 years and helped identify it at the police station, said the
instrument would be restored to health by October. "There's no reason it can't be restored to the way
it was," Cauer said. "The sound will be as good as before."
Stevens remains eligible for the $50,000 reward offered by the Philharmonic but LAPD Assistant Chief
Jim McDonnell warned that the "case is by no means solved." After rescuing the cello from the garbage heap,
Stevens took it home and asked her cabinetmaker boyfriend, Igal Asseraf, to fix it or hinge the top to turn
it into a CD case, her attorney Ronald Hoffman said. "We are very lucky that Igal was not a person that
works real quickly," Hoffman said.
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