Another expensive violin goes missing

December 23, 2011 at 05:49 PM · AP foreign, Friday December 23 2011

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Police are asking for the public's help recovering a rare violin worth $172,000 that was left on board a Boston-to-Philadelphia bus by a groggy music student from Taiwan.

Philadelphia police say the instrument was left in an overhead bin on a Megabus late Tuesday.

Muchen Hsieh (moo-SHEHN' SHEE'-uh) tells KYW-TV she noticed she didn't have the violin after getting picked up by the family hosting her visit to the Philadelphia area. She called the bus company but was told the instrument hadn't been found.

Hsieh says a Taiwanese culture foundation lent her the violin as she studies at the New England Conservatory in Boston. It was made in 1835 by Vincenzo Jorio in Naples.

Lt. John Walker says the instrument can be returned to Philadelphia police, no questions asked.

© 2011 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved.

Replies (23)

December 23, 2011 at 06:08 PM · The violin has been found: Music to her ears: Lost violin worth $172K found

I'm so relieved for Muchen! However I am also worried that Chi-Mei Foundation would take the violin back because of this incident. I certainly hope not!

Last year a Chi-Mei owned Guadagnini (along with two Peccatte bows) was stolen while on loan to Taiwanese violinist Chia-Hao Lee - he was too tired after a concert and dozed off on Hong Kong's Star Ferry and a man snatched it (He thought it was a cheap junk and was going to give it to a relative). The thief was later arrested and the violin was recovered, but the Foundation was mad, and vowed not to loan any violin to him in the near future.

December 23, 2011 at 07:42 PM · I really don't understand how people can forget something like their violin! I've traveled from NY to ANTARCTICA (36 hours of AIR travel, plus layovers), with my $300 fiddle, and it was NEVER out of my hand or in some way touching my body!

December 23, 2011 at 08:18 PM · I don't know about the policies of long distance bus companies, but I don't think you can do that with commercial airliners... And people do forget their belongings on the move regardless of their values. I have left purses, wallets, a cell phone, gloves, hats, scarfs, sweaters, jackets, umbrellas, travel mugs, etc. in public places (That's why I would rather leave my violin in the car than take it with me if I won't be gone for long). We are human and sometimes we are tired or distracted... We only hear about them when the lost goods are valuable or rare.

December 23, 2011 at 08:35 PM · Oh, how nice to read about the happy ending! That's one relieved student, I imagine.

December 24, 2011 at 12:11 AM · Im with Tammy on this one. You treat your wallet the same way as you would an expensive laptop, or in this case a violin. Much less one that costs more than my house! That thing would get chained to my arm

December 24, 2011 at 12:50 AM · Joyce:

I guess you won't be the one carrying the nuclear passcode like in the movie lol

December 24, 2011 at 06:39 AM · I'm always hearing about these silly numpties abandoning their violins in buses and taxi cabs and I think: the only way you'd get my violin from me is if I was fully incapacitated.

December 24, 2011 at 07:25 AM · Where does it stop being harmless? Forgetting your newspaper, your keys, your wallet, your violin, your neighbors child in the bus?

Losing one's violin like that is explainable (and nobody does something this stupid intentionally). But there is no excuse. I don't think someone such careless qualifys for such a loan.

December 24, 2011 at 01:40 PM · Yes, yes, I KNOW we like to think we would never do something so daft, but I very nearly did it once, getting off a train in earnest conversation with a student architect on the subject of modular prefabricated construction techniques. Luckily (a) it was the terminus so the train did not speed off and (b) I'd advanced on the platform by only a very few paces when the penny dropped. The loaned Alfred Vincent wasn't as valuable as the Jorio.

A master at my school went to London, bought a new clarinet, then left it on the train.

December 24, 2011 at 01:58 PM · On trains, if I have a violin with me I find that I have to make a periodic conscious effort to remind myself that it is on the overhead luggage rack and must on no account be forgotten. That's partly because I do not have much occasion to travel by rail and do not always have a violin with me when I do this, so that taking a violin on a train is not second nature. Fortunately, my trips abroad are sufficiently short and few to mean that I do not need to fly with a violin. I can identify with Joyce in having left umbrellas, gloves and a mobile phone in public places in the past, and in preferring to leave a violin in my car boot (USA trunk) if I have to do numerous other things, if I have to stop at motorway services and if the weather will allow it - certainly not otherwise!

December 24, 2011 at 02:40 PM · Finishing my apprenticeship as a brass instrument maker I had to make a trumpet. The day before the exam I left it in the train.

I noticed at once, but the train had just begun rolling.

The station manager called the next station, and half an hour later I had it back.

I learned something out of it.

December 24, 2011 at 04:02 PM · The Concertmaster of a major orchestra told me he left his old Italian in a restaurant on an

interstate once. Fifty miles away he realized his error. He said he set speed records after his U turn and luckily the violin was right where he left it.

It is easy to do, we're all capable of doing that so I'm sure not throwing any stones.

December 24, 2011 at 04:48 PM · Ever since I read about the horrified couple who left their BABY in an interstate rest area, (they got her back, but oh, my!) I've decided I just can't know enough to judge. Easy to say 'could never happen to me,' could. I rarely take my instruments anywhere except between gig and home, so I haven't had much experience, but inattention is so easy, so fast, so...well, inattentive.

December 24, 2011 at 05:54 PM · Babies are replaceable - violins sometimes are not ...

December 24, 2011 at 05:57 PM · It's very easy to judge and nothing wrong in doing it. The woman was irresponsible, pure and simple.

If I had a $170,000 violin the case strap would be around my arm, the case in my lap, between my legs\feet, or sitting next to me in an empty seat with my hand on the handle or strap at all times.

When I moved to the Middle East to work, I took five instruments with me. A Gibson Reverse Firebird electric guitar, hand made Alvaraz Yairi acoustic guitar, two trumpets and a flugelhorn. The horns were in a soft gig bag that accompanied me on the flight and were kept neatly under my seat at all times. Never lost track of any of them or of the two very large boxes that held the other items I would need while living around the world.

In hindsight it was a mistake taking so many instruments overseas and it cost me $900 to ship the guitars back. Wasn't but $50 to take them over, but I was dealing with Arabs on the return trip.

The horns accompanied me back as they did on the trip over, under the seat I was in on the plane. The guitars took a couple of weeks to arrive though, and had been packed and crated with wood before being put on the plane. Surprisingly, they were in one piece although some of my clothes were stolen when customs went through the other boxes in Atlanta. The usual thieving suspects there.

December 24, 2011 at 07:49 PM · Yes, it's easy to condemn her, but I'm not sure those who cast stones are really better or it just hasn't happened to them yet. Those who travel less are less likely to leave things behind, not only because of the simple math of probability, but also because of comfort level, as Nicky discovered. For the same reason I believe Strads are safer with amateurs than soloists (see this thread).

I only travel with my violin 3-4 times a year, and it's a big concern of mine during my journeys so the chances of me forgetting it are extremely slim. Give this 18-year-old a break! These young violinists travel internationally for camps and competitions from a very young age. There are at least hundreds of times that she did not leave her instrument behind, but it only takes a split second of inattentiveness for something like this to happen. Can anyone say they never forget anything somewhere?

December 24, 2011 at 10:20 PM · No-one is casting stones here...

A valuable violin (belonging to others) is no umbrella.

And are we not talking about pros?

December 24, 2011 at 11:01 PM · I think its possible under certain circumstances anything with anyone could be forgotten. My mom died just before thanksgiving. I took my two sons only one drives and he has no endurance for driving and two small grandchildren also my sister who has been mentally slow since birth. I drove about 18 hours of the 22 hour drive. Then had repairs done on our car while cleaning brothers shop for fixing car. Then had my clothes for the funeral,for me and son in one bag. Running low on time called sons. Told them bring all luggage out to the driveway including my violin, stand, and my insulin. I get there, nothing. Ran in hurry everyone lets go bring everything to the car throw it in. Start to back out of the driveway her comes sister slowly wandering out. Yup forgot my special Ed sis. Get all the way to Los Angeles and realize they didn't bring my bag of clothes or my violin etc. Only thing they remembered of mine was insulin. So I went to the funeral in a very busy pale blue skirt and shirt. Everyone else in black. No violin which we had planned on me playing at the viewing. Everything was safe at sister in laws home. Next day went to church. Got kids ready load up to go forgot sister as I was driving out again. Then next day we were leaving to go back home to Ok and nearly left get again. That is very much unlike me. Then I drove again 19 hours of the return trip. And everyone wondered why I was tired and grumpy.


December 24, 2011 at 11:09 PM · Your circumstances are extreme, Julie, and I can't see the violinist in this case having experienced such a loss, fatigue of travel, a funeral, and all that goes with it.

How does one travel with a $170,000 and not realize they no longer have it in their possession? If any of you would allow me to test that question, I'll gladly offer a home to such a violin. Just PM me for information on where to send it.

December 25, 2011 at 12:46 AM · It was found, was on the overhead compartment of the bus....

December 25, 2011 at 03:40 AM · Here is Mu-Chen Hsieh playing "Away in a Manger" on the Jorio for the detectives who found her violin (0:57):

December 25, 2011 at 05:11 AM · I was walking home from the shops once, and half way there realised that when I left, I had my baby with me in the stroller. I found her sleeping peacefully in the aisle where I'd left her. A good 15 minutes earlier. guilt and foolishness. i have lost my ATM cards so many times my whole family makes jokes about it.

December 25, 2011 at 05:55 AM · It's actually 70k - by Chi-Mei... but still...

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