Russian police have recovered two historic instruments worth $1.2 million that were stolen from a museum last year - including a viola by the celebrated 17th-century Italian master Antonio Stradivari.
Police found the viola and a violin by Austrian Jakob Steiner near the southern city of Sochi and brought them to Moscow Tuesday, the business daily Kommersant reported Wednesday.
The Glinka Musical Culture museum’s chief expert, Amiran Oganezov, confirmed the instruments’ authenticity right at the airport and even kissed the Stradivarius, it said.
The museum was equipped with a modern security system, but the showcase containing the instruments was made of ordinary glass. It took the thieves only five minutes to break in at night and escape with their loot, Kommersant reported.
The Stradivarius, made in 1671 and worth an estimated $1 million, belonged to Queen Elizabeth of Belgium, who bequeathed it to David Oistrakh, a famous Soviet violinist. Oistrakh died in 1974 and his widow gave it to the museum.