Police recover stolen Stradivarius violin from southside home

1715 Lipinski Stradivarius violin

1715 Lipinski Stradivarius violin

MILWAUKEE (WITI) — The Milwaukee Police Department recovered the stolen 1715 Lipinski Stradivarius violin from a home in the city’s Bay View neighborhood. It appears to be in perfect condition — and is expected to be returned to its owner soon.

On Monday, January 27th, two armed suspects, a man and a woman, approached concertmaster violinist Frank Almond of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra who had just performed at Wisconsin Lutheran College.  Almond walked to a parking lot after the concert and the suspects approached Almond. They used a taser on Almond, causing him to drop the violin and fall to the ground. The suspects then stole the violin, valued at approximately $6 million.

Universal Allah, Salah Salahadyn

Universal Allah, Salah Salahadyn

In a news conference on Thursday, February 6th, Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn said team initially reached out to the FBI’s arts crimes team for advice in this case. Flynn said his officers worked closely with Taser International. Information received from the company led them to an individual in Milwaukee who had purchased the device. He was identified as 36-year-old Universal Allah. He was placed under arrest.

Chief Flynn said another anonymous tip several days into the investigation helped them identify a primary suspect in this theft. He is 41-year-old Salah Salahadyn.

The investigation led the Milwaukee Police Department to execute five separate warrants. Those resulted in the arrests of three people — including the two suspects already named.

1715 Lipinski Stradivarius violin

1715 Lipinski Stradivarius violin

Further information received by MPD indicated the location of the violin. Officers executed a search warrant Wednesday night, February 5th at a home on E. Smith St. on the city’s south side. The Stradivarius violin was apparently stored in a suitcase and found in an attic at a home on that street. Again, it appears to be in good condition.

“It was treated very carefully by the people who stole it. Folks who stole it knew it was highly valuable. They don’t want to do anything to injure the violin,” said Chief Flynn.

The big question out there is why? What were the thieves going to do with the violin? Chief Flynn says that is not clear. Right now, officials say the suspects knew it was valuable — and they allegedly took it.

Stradivarius violin guarded by MPD

Stradivarius violin guarded by MPD

Milwaukee County District Attorney John Chisholm indicated criminal charges in this case would be filed Friday morning, February 7th. That’s in part because the assistant D.A. who will be handling the case was involved closely with the investigation.

Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said of the recovery, “There are good days and there are bad days. Today is a good day.” Barrett said the investigation was a model of cooperation between the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, Milwaukee Police Department, FBI, Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office and the citizens of Milwaukee.

Mark Niehaus, President of the MSO, said he is incredibly thankful for the Milwaukee Police Department and all those who helped with the investigation.

Frank Almond

Frank Almond

Following Thursday’s news conference, concertmaster Frank Almond issued the following statement on the recovery of the Stradivarius violin:

“I’d like to express my deep gratitude to Chief Flynn, the Milwaukee Police Department, FBI, and all other law enforcement agencies for their outstanding work. Their professionalism and personal concern throughout this entire ordeal have been exemplary, and I cannot thank them enough. I’d also like to thank everyone for the colossal outpouring of support and concern over the last ten days, especially the musicians, staff, and board of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. It was truly heartening during what was obviously a very difficult time. I could not have imagined a better outcome for this particular chapter in the violin’s life and look forward to having it in my hands as soon as possible.”

On his Facebook page Thursday, Frank Almond posted the following message:

“After this unbelievable news I’d just like to again express my deepest gratitude to Chief Edward Flynn and the Milwaukee Police Department along with all other law enforcement involved. Absolutely amazing work. And thank you all so much for the unending well-wishes and support through this entire ordeal. I hope to have the violin in my hands soon!”

Almond has received incredible support from the community since this incident occurred.

He has the following photo set as his Facebook cover photo — seemingly sent to him by a young fan.

Frank Almond Facebook cover pic

Frank Almond Facebook cover pic

It is believed the violin is now back in the hands of its anonymous owner. Almond is set to be reunited with it this weekend.

Yet to be recovered in this case is the getaway vehicle — described as a maroon 80’s or 90’s Dodge or Chrysler minivan.

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20 comments

  • Max

    Is it really worth having a live breaking news for this violin. I think you’re doing it more for the mayor, Chief of police and etc., to get a pat on the back more then anything else. How about the teenager that was killed last night in Milwaukee? I think his life is worth more. So where is his breaking news event??? Do sad!!!!!!

  • Michelle

    Wow. All this when a 4 month old baby is missing. Great job, Fox News. Lets put a headline about a missing (yet recovered) violin ABOVE a story about a MISSING 4 MONTH OLD CHILD. You disgust me.

  • Michelle

    Also I was wrong, the baby is only four DAYS old, not months.

    Max, I’m glad we are on the same page. I understand the violin is a valuable piece of history, but that absolutely does not trump a human life. That poor baby was just born. The only good from this situation is that the child will never remember whatever is happening right now.

    • Daniel Clifford

      This is whats wrong with all media. Money talks and that’s all these corporate owned news stations care about. I hope this infant is found as soon as possible.

      I am glad the alleged suspects were taken into custody and violin recovered. But not worth more than a missing infant or someone losing their life no matter what the circumstances.

      • Michelle

        All the man power being used to hold this press conference when they could be out questioning people in the disappearance of this brand new baby. I understand that there is only so much they can do, and only so many people are needed to do it, but it sure makes them look bad to put more coverage on a violin than I usually see for murdered or missing people. You are absolutely right, money talks. How sad. I bet if this was the 4 day old baby of a billionaire there would be a whole lot more coverage.

      • Willy Klink

        dear michelle

        the missing baby is in beloit. the violin is in milwaukee. why don’t you get off the internet and stop being a drama queen and go look for the baby yourself?

  • Michelle

    Hi Willy,
    Please excuse me for not paying closer attention to the town. The fact of the matter is that it is sad how much coverage is happening, not only on Fox6 but on Yahoo, NBC etc… for a violin when there are far worse things happening out there that get next to no attention. Maybe you don’t agree that this child’s life is more important than a violin, but some of us do and I would hardly call that being a “drama queen”. I, for my part, will be doing what I can on my social media accounts and email to spread the word about the missing child. Maybe it will help, maybe it won’t, but it sure is more important to me than coverage about a violin.

  • cynic

    Many of you seem to be under the impression that the media’s job is to cover and report news. This is clearly no longer the case, nor has it been for many years. Their job is to get people to read/watch/click so their advertisers get paid. That’s why 99% of the stories are bad news. People will always tune in to find out what will kill them, cost them money, get them in trouble, or relates to some hack celebrity. News that’s either positive or lacks sensationalism doesn’t pay the bills anymore.

  • Vlanca Vazquez

    WOW if MPD put this much effort in unsolved murder cases and unsolved crime period, we would live in a pretty safe city! I get the violin was valuable, but it was only valuable to a SMALL part of the community!!! get your priorities straight!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Allison

    I am a music student in Ohio and I have been following the news of the violin very seriously. It was, and is, a shocking event in the musical community. Thank you, Fox 6 Now, for covering it. To those who are disrespecting the great news that this precious instrument has been found, you clearly do not understand its value (not just financially, but emotionally and as a musical symbol).

  • Grace

    They should be cooperating on the baby case not yapping on an object,if its their job to get just tv time then bye bye!my other comment wasn’t allowed somehow but as I said dogs get front news in milwaukee,corner store robberies!ok ,what needs to be news is the lack of resources for a baby who isn’t tagged at 6 million dollars!milwaukee should be involved with other more pressing issues,no more on a found piece of wood who isn’t breathing please!there needs to be doers not just the same people on tv talking and repeating ,I bet they just pick a suit to wear,use our taxes for delivery while we are forced to see videos of corner store robberies on you tube?get better police ,people who deserve it,same guys on tv for years always looking stupid!always asking for help while people struggle for everything.help those in need ,not just the uber rich!

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