A 270-year-old violin worth an estimated 7 million shekels (about $1.8 million) was stolen from Ukrainian-Israeli violinist Professor Pavel Vernikov last week at a train station in Geneva, Switzerland. “I’ve performed with it for over 20 years, all around the world, including at the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow,” Vernikov told Haaretz Wednesday by phone from Italy. “I feel like my baby’s been stolen. I have no idea how I’ll be able to play again.”
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The theft occurred last Thursday as Vernikov was returning to his home in Switzerland from Vienna, where he teaches at a university.
The violin was made in Italy in 1747 by the famous Italian violinmaker Giovanni Battista Guadagnini. An Italian foundation presented it to Vernikov as a lifelong gift. “I could never have afforded to buy it myself. I hope I’ll get it back. If not, the insurance will pay,” he says. “It has such a phenomenal sound,” he adds sadly.
Vernikov, who performs and teaches around the world, is not sure if the violin was deliberately stolen by thieves who followed him and knew what they were after. The thieves also made off with money and documents, including his Israeli passport.