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Dietmar Machold, photo by Noah Addis
Dietmar Machold, photo by Noah Addis


Aug. 12, 2011

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Austrian police say an $81.4 million collection of 17 violins has gone missing from the world’s biggest violin dealer, Dietmar Machold, who filed for bankruptcy in late 2010 and was arrested in March for embezzlement and grand commercial fraud. The collection included five violins made by Antonio Stradivari, four by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu and several rare bows, The Austrian Independent reports.

Machold made his fortune selling 300-year-old Stradivariuses, some going for upwards of $6 million, through his family’s five-generation business, Machold Rare Violins. In the 1990s, there was a boom in the market and Machold bought a castle on the outskirts of Vienna. But then, when the global economy collapsed in 2008, so did the demand for rare violins, and Machold became saddled with expensive instruments he couldn’t sell. He told Germany’s Der Spiegel magazine in 2010 that he owed the banks €19 million.

Officials say Machold has fled to Switzerland, where he is currently awaiting extradition.

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