A violinist has launched a legal claim against a New York dealer who she alleges lost her violin while it was on consignment – by giving it out for trial to someone who never returned.

A lawsuit was filed on 26 March against dealer Emmanuel Gradoux-Matt (pictured right) by lawyers representing Kyung-Ah Yang, a South Korean violinist who trained at the Manhattan School of Music.

According to the suit, Yang consigned the instrument, an 1837 J.F. Pressenda, in 1998 with New York shop René Morel Rare Violins, where Gradoux-Matt worked at the time. The company was to sell the violin for $285,000, says the suit, but the instrument did not find a buyer.

In 2011, according to the suit, Yang wanted to retrieve her violin from Gradoux-Matt, who had by then parted ways with René Morel and formed his own firm, Gradoux-Matt Rare Violins. The suit alleges that Yang's requests to see the instrument were 'repeatedly ignored, dismissed or avoided', and that in January 2013, with the violin now valued at around $400,000, Gradoux-Matt informed Yang that 'he had let an individual in New York borrow [her] violin for a trial, and the individual never returned'.

The suit continues: 'It appears that Gradoux-Matt conducted no background check, did not request any deposit or other security mechanism or take any other precaution to ensure that [Yang's] violin would not be stolen.'

According to the suit, Yang is seeking $400,000 in compensation damages, along with punitive damages of the same amount. Gradoux-Matt was not available to comment.