Historic violin stolen in New York subway recovered by jubilant Juilliard graduate

Thursday, July 5, 2007

NEW YORK -- A prized violin that was stolen while its owner snoozed on a hot subway train has been recovered.

"I'm of course overjoyed!" Tom Chiu, a Juilliard School graduate and founder of the avant-garde Flux Quartet, wrote Wednesday in an e-mail message about his Scarampella violin.

The violin and his backpack were stolen June 27.

Chiu said it was raining that night and he went into a hot and humid subway station after a performance and fell asleep. When he awoke, he said, his bags were gone.

Chiu, who calls his violin his "heart and soul for the last 13 years," said in a statement that the violin and the backpack and its contents were turned in to the Metropolitan Transit Authority's lost-and-found, and an MTA official contacted him late Tuesday.

The contents included a violin bow that Chiu has used since childhood.

"Losing it was like losing my voice, my soul. So getting it back is just great," said Chiu, the instrument again in hand.

NYC Transit did not immediately return a call seeking details about the recovery.

At the time of the theft, Chiu said the violin and bow "all have great sentimental value to me and are completely irreplaceable. I hope the person who has my violin will return it to me. I would be forever grateful."

Chiu did not say what the violin was worth. He said it had originally belonged to his parents.

The violin was made by Stefano Scarampella, one of the most highly regarded violin makers from the early 20th century in Italy.

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