The instrument, a 1675 Nicolò Amati, was stolen in 2005 

Police in Reggio Emilia, Italy, have recovered a 1675 Nicolo Amati violin stolen in 2005 from its owner in Japan. 

Police seized the violin after the suspect was unable to provide a credible explanation for how it had come into his possession. During a raid on the home of a suspected drug trafficker, officers’ attention was drawn to the instrument on account of its apparent age and the empty string packets with Japanese text found inside its case.

After the instrument was not found to match those on any international police databases, the Parma Public Prosecutor’s Office appointed an expert based in Cremona to conduct a full appraisal. 

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These independent enquiries established that the violin was the instrument stolen in August 2005 from violinist Takiko Omura, then 89, the widow of architect Junzō Yoshimura.

‘I have been using the instrument for fifty years,’ Omura told the Asahi Shimbun newspaper at the time of the theft. ‘The violin is filled with lots of our memories. I feel as if I have lost a friend,’

Omura and Yoshimura bought the violin from a US dealer in 1954, and its value was estimated in 2005 at around £300,000. Italian authorities are currently making arrangements for the instrument to be returned to Japan.