Forgetful Violinist Leaves Priceless Stradivarius on Swiss Train

Hey people, can we please keep a better handle on our priceless instruments?

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Brendan McDermid / REUTERS

A Stradivarius violin known as "The Penny" is displayed at Christie's auction house in New York on March 27, 2008.

A Swiss musician could have been playing his swan song last week after he left a Stradivarius violin, worth millions of dollars, on a train. But the priceless string instrument, which violinist Alexander Dubach was merely borrowing from a friend, quickly appeared at a Swiss lost-and-found office. After a five-day search, it was finally returned to its rightful owner.

Dubach left the instrument on a commuter train when he got off in Bern, Switzerland last Friday. A fellow passenger, Pascal Tretola, picked up the violin and turned it in to the train station’s office on Sunday. Tretola, suspecting it was valuable, told the AFP: “There were some drunks in the train, which is why I took the violin case to make sure nothing happened to it.”

(MORE: Stradivarius Violin Up for Auction to Aid Japan Earthquake Victims)

Staff searched relentlessly for the owner, resorting to reviewing surveillance cameras to try to determine the identity of the owner. Dubach, who actually doesn’t own the violin, was grateful that the million-dollar violin had been returned and was reunited with the instrument yesterday. The owner and Dubach have said that they plan to reward Tretola generously for his kindness. And the scare has led Dubach to modify his transportation habits: he’s vowed to never again tote around the violin by himself.

Stradivarius violins are named after Antonio Stradivari, who created the instruments in the late 17th and early 18th centuries. Only about 600 of his violins are thought to have survived the passage of time, leading them to be considered among the rarest and best instruments in the world. Acclaimed violinist Joshua Bell uses a Stradivarius, and cellist Yo Yo Ma also uses a cello created by the Italian violin maker, who died in 1737.

(MORE: Lost Luggage: Musician Forgets Million-Dollar Violin on Train)

This violin’s value remains a mystery, but Stradivarius instruments are generally valued at millions. Last year, a Stradivarius was sold for $15.9 million in an effort to raise funds for Japanese tsunami victims. In 2008, a violinist left a $4 million Stradivarius in the back of a New York cab. The cabbie later returned it — and received an impromptu concert in thanks. Because money is hardly compensation for the safe return of such a priceless instrument.

Erica Ho is a contributor at TIME and the editor of Map Happy. Find her on Twitter at @ericamho and Google+. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

57 comments
DougBarger
DougBarger

"Because money is hardly compensation for the safe return of such a priceless instrument."

True, but it's a good first step.





Rgarza42
Rgarza42

I don't think he knew the violin was a Stradivarius when he return it .

Mike259
Mike259

I've read about people forgetting their kids in the car in the middle of Summer. I can see someone forgetting a musical instrument.

DRUPHS
DRUPHS

bieber is not happy about this

Duane Albert
Duane Albert

Anyone can buy a great violin at your local music store for a few hundred $$,plays just as well as  any other 

Dan Bruce
Dan Bruce

I'll be glad to loan him a few of my relatives.

sevensins
sevensins

Kinda behaves like a US politician when you think about it. Totally careless with someone else’s valued possession or money.

Lightskinnedniqqa
Lightskinnedniqqa

"violinist Alexander Dubach was merely borrowing from a friend"

"he’s vowed to never again tote around the violin by himself."

Yeah, I don't think he's going to have to worry about that again.

gmenfan54
gmenfan54

Make sure Alexander Dubach never is given anything valuable again.

Talendria
Talendria

This is why I stopped carrying a purse when my son was born.  I can only keep track of one thing at a time.

Jamie Anderson
Jamie Anderson

is it priceless, worth millions, or worth a million?  

johnkuepublique
johnkuepublique

I'm a professional vocalist...and can honestly say that I have never, in my entire life-time, left my instrument on a bus, in a car, or on a plane.  I like to keep things simple...

Lucas Cook
Lucas Cook

It wouldn't do you much good to steal it. Only a select few places could buy it from you and if they did they would need all kinds of documentation. 

infertilemyrtle
infertilemyrtle

I hear this story about every 5 years. I used to feel bad for the people, but I've heard it happen so many times, I just don't feel any sympathy any more.

moscosso
moscosso

Once I left a crate of double ended dildos on a train, and I found them 2 hours later, reaking of tuna fish

returnreason
returnreason

The Swiss are amazing for their honesty.  I once left a tube of valuable prints at a bus stop in Zurich (bus 25 terminal I believe).  I came back about 1 1/2 hours later and they were sitting there  untouched.

AndyB
AndyB

We keep seeing these stories all the time, just how "rare" are these fiddles for real?

66 Biker
66 Biker

Just goes to show ya... Honesty pays. But at times it pays very well...

lewtwo
lewtwo

he left a Stradivarius violin, worth millions of dollars, on a train.... was merely borrowing from a friend

The Friend might want to be a bit more careful about who he loans a million dollar fiddle to.

AB12
AB12

im glad that u didnt find the instrument

AB12
AB12

@Duane Albert u are a idiot. I believe u do not know what the difference between a high quality instrument and a beginner instrument is. You illiterate fool.

vikingstork
vikingstork

 Remember the episode in GB, some British politician "left" a DVD with huge amount of personal info on the train, TWICE. Is it a shamelessly passing it to someone for juicy payoff, or what. And a good excuse "prove it, i didn't forget it"

Joycetem
Joycetem

Leonard replied I didn't even know that people able to profit $8410 in four weeks on the network. have you seen this(Click on menu Home)

AB12
AB12

@Jamie Anderson 

It truly depends on the condition of a the instrument. If it was in perfect condition it could sell for millions at auction.

Ruth Raynor
Ruth Raynor

Ah, but your instrument can still be lost. Usually after some kind of shouting match.

The Bobsie Twins
The Bobsie Twins

You have absolutely no idea what you are talking about.  

AB12
AB12

@Julien Radoff u idiot


Time Traveler
Time Traveler

Yeah that's probably because yours has a little tag on the back that says "made in China".

Time Traveler
Time Traveler

 You're confused. It's not happening to same people every 5 years.

Tom Zentra
Tom Zentra

It occurs even more frequently than that. The last similar story was published about a year ago.

Both the violin owner and the person who left the instrument on the train are at fault. The owner should never lend such an expensive item, and the train rider ought to receive a small punishment for negligence.

nononsense123
nononsense123

 Oh. You've be come jaded. To what shortcoming in yourself do you attribute this change?

Janette
Janette

Oh yeah, honest. Especially when it comes to bank accounts.

sevensins
sevensins

AKA lemmings. Anything out of normal process and they are clueless what to do. More people from the US should move there to take advantage of the situation. That’s the American Way!

Time Traveler
Time Traveler

You're totally missing the point. Honesty is not about a payoff. If you want to make it about payoff, dishonesty wins every time. What makes honesty noble is that you're doing the right thing, consciously forgoing the payoff of the dishonest alternative, and expecting nothing in return.

vikingstork
vikingstork

 The friend is likely to be same scatter brain Dubach is.

AB12
AB12

@Time Traveler so true

spar0056
spar0056

You are amongst the many who manage to be negative about a story that is all about human goodness!!!!  Firstly, someone owns something beautiful, but doesn’t themselves have the talent to make it really sing, so he lends it to someone blessed with just that ability.  Like many people with incredible talents, the Violinist is also cursed with a flight full, forgetful side.  Most amazing minds are!!!  So the violist forgets the violin on the train....he must have been sick to death with worry about it.  But some average Joe finds it and returns it out of honesty and goodness.......this is a great story on every level. 

Edwin999
Edwin999

Is there an "unlike" button?  I think I unlike your comment.

Being honest is not the same as being a lemming.

rgray222
rgray222

I completely disagree with your premise, your notion that dishonesty wins every time is reminiscent of people who want us to actually believe the world is a bad place. Sorry don't buy that. How about.........honesty with your spouse otherwise you end up divorced or separated;...........honesty with your doctor otherwise you might have the wrong limb amputated or worse...dead;.....honesty with the taxi driver otherwise you end up in the wrong place;.........honesty in your job otherwise you get fired;....honesty with those you love otherwise you end up alone.........honesty with yourself otherwise you end believing Dishonesty wins every time! The pay off for honesty is not only financial but it is way of life that fills your spirit and makes you whole!  Honestly this list could just go on forever!

Draxta
Draxta

Amazing how some people view life, isn't it?  Can you imagine how much negativity Tom deals with daily?

sevensins
sevensins

Take it easy there Copernicus, it was sarcasm. Because how irresponsible can someone be to leave something like that behind?

 

Laura H. Salovitch
Laura H. Salovitch

 Quite sure sevinsins was kidding.  I got a smile from the post.