Priceless violin missing in Asheville

From a press release:

In 1999, when world renowned cellist Yo-Yo Ma left a 266-year old cello worth $2.5 million dollars in the trunk of a New York City cab, an all-points bulletin to the NYC police and the help of his taxi receipt brought the instrument back home safe in time for his next concert. In 1995, a Stradivarius violin, made in 1727 and worth $3.5 million dollars, was stolen from the apartment of its 91 year old owner, former concert violinist Erica Morini. Morini never saw the instrument again, and the case now sits near the top of the FBI’s “Top Ten Art Crimes” unsolved list.

Today, Asheville musician Eric Scheider is hoping that his story will end more like Mr. Ma’s than Ms. Morini’s. While visiting downtown Asheville on Sunday morning, July 22, Scheider set down his treasured violin for just a few moments while inside a Wall Street business, and hasn’t seen the instrument since. Scheider’s priceless violin, known as the “Bread Violin” was scheduled to be auctioned off August 5 as a benefit for several local hunger organizations. “This instrument is truly a one-of-a-kind,” Scheider reports. Highly valued, both for its exceptional tone—“indescribable,” according to Scheider, “literally, since the instrument doesn’t have any strings”—and unique craftsmanship—the instrument features a rare Mickey-Mouse-head shaped carving in the varnish of the instrument’s back—Scheider discovered the instrument in a local music shop’s scrap pile.

“In 24 years as a string player, I’ve played lots of amazing instruments, from 17th and 18th century greats by Amati, Guarneri, and Norman, down to modern masterpieces by Oddone and Hutchins, but this violin is truly unique.” Without strings or any of the other working parts of a normal violin, Scheider says, “someone picking up this fiddle for the first time instantly realizes that the usual artistic limits don’t apply.” Musicians become more attached to the tools of their craft than in perhaps any other profession. And not just because of the high price of purchasing concert level instruments, which can routinely cost more than automobiles and even homes. An instrument can take on the emotional significance of a close friend or family member, especially for musicians who spend hours alone each day with their instruments.

For Scheider, the possibility of a permanent loss of the “Bread Violin” isn’t just personal. The auction of the instrument, as a part of the Jubilee! Summer Orchestra’s “A Musical Offering” concert August 5, was planned as a way to raise money for hunger relief organizations including Manna Food Bank and Meals on Wheels. “With 1 in 6 people in Western North Carolina seeking food aid each year, hunger isn’t just a game,” Scheider says. The show will go on, but with bidding slated to start at $3.5 million (and decreasing from there) it will be a big loss to the cause if this
instrument doesn’t make it back in time. “We will keep the auction table open until the very last minute in hopes that whoever has the violin will decide to bring it to the concert.”

The auction of the “Bread Violin” is slated for this Sunday, August 5, during “A Musical Offering,” featuring the Jubilee! Summer Orchestra in works by Bach, Elgar, and Rimsky-Korsakov, held at Jubilee! Community, 46 Wall St in downtown Asheville. The concert begins at 7:30 pm, and admission is by donation at the door to benefit the Jubilee! Hunger fund. Anyone with information leading to the recovery of the “Bread Violin” is asked to contact: violin@jubileeorchestra.net or post at www.facebook.com/breadviolin


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