Musician Claims 1758 Violin Stolen From South Loop Home – Chicago Tribune

Three musical instruments, including a 1758 violin, were stolen from a South Loop row house Wednesday morning as a family of musicians slept.

MingHuan Xu, a professional violinist and director of Roosevelt University’s string program, said the stolen antique violin has immense cultural and personal value. It was made by renowned Italian luthier Nicolò Gagliano and loaned to Xu by a private sponsor 20 years ago.

A second violin stolen in the robbery was made by Oliver Radke in the late 1990s, Xu said, and a medium-sized cello belonging to his son is also missing.

“(This ancient violin) has traveled with me to so many places and has really been my musical companion for the past 20 years,” Xu said. “Losing something like that is like losing a family member, it’s like losing my own voice, and the violin lost his voice too. My heart is really broken, I was bleeding and I just want my violin back. I want the other instruments, all the instruments back, we can imagine that my son is also terrified and devastated to lose his cello at such a young age”.

The violin was in a purple William Harris Lee & Co. cello-shaped hard case with some flower and butterfly stickers. The family is working to offer a reward to anyone with information on the whereabouts of the instrument, but the amount has not yet been confirmed, Xu said.

Xu, who is also part of the University of Chicago Grossman Ensemble, has a concert on May 20 and doesn’t have a violin to practice with. She still plans to play.

“Right now I’m going through a mourning, really a period of mourning where I feel like my heart is not ready to move on, even temporarily, with another violin,” he said. “I have some very generous friends and violin dealers in town who are willing to lend me a violin to use in the meantime, but no decisions have been made at this time. I still have hope that my violin will find its way home.”

According to surveillance cameras in their neighbor’s garage, the suspect entered their home around 3:45 am while the family was sleeping after being able to open Xu’s locked car and click the garage button inside the car. The family did not realize someone had been inside their home until 4:37 a.m. when one of their alarms went off.

Xu’s family has been “completely shocked” by this event and do not feel safe in their own home, he said. However, they do not believe that the incident was a selective robbery since her house is on the first floor.

“(This) experience was terrifying,” he said. “I think in many ways it will take a while for our family to recover and feel safe again. … I think that when we are at home, we should feel safe and be able to relax, but we don’t feel that way right now, as you can imagine.”

The loaned violin, which is insured, has sentimental value greater than its price, Xu said.

“It’s hard for me to say the exact number of how much (the violin) is worth exactly,” Xu said. “But what I can tell you is this, it’s not replaceable, something like that is not replaceable, and it’s beyond its price. It has a lot of sentimental value. It was made in 1758 and sometimes I think of all the stories the violin has, all the musicians and violinists who played it before me”.

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