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This tale reminded me of the Totenberg Stradivarius (also known as the Ames Stradivarius), stolen in the early 80s in Cambridge Mass. and recovered after the thief, a former conservatory student, died decades later and his wife (unaware of the provenance) tried to have it appraised (https://stringsmagazine.com/a-new-chapter-begins-in-the-tumu...). The thief kept it hidden at first, but in the 1990s and 2000s was apparently performing with it in public.

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