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Violin Prodigy Has Instrument Stolen

Apr. 21, 1964 - An 18-year-old Israeli violinist won a major music competition at Carnegie Hall today. As he was receiving congratulations, the Guarnerius violin he had played disappeared.

Isaac Stern, 43-year-old violinist and spokesman for the judges, placed the value of the rare instrument at $25,000 to $50,000.

The violin, which was made about 1740, had been lent to Itzhak Perlman (pictured with Ed Sullivan in 1958) by the Juilliard School of Music. The violin is part of the school’s collection of rare instruments that are used by exceptionally gifted instrumentalists. It is insured.

Mr. Perlman, a Juilliard scholarship student who played while seated because he had polio at 4, was the youngest of four violinists who competed today before 400 persons in the finals of the 23rd International Competition of the Edgar M. Leventritt Foundation, one of the major international competitions. Mr. Perlman won $1,000 and will make appearances next season with seven major symphonies.

At about 4:55, Mr. Stern went to the stage of the hall to announced Mr. Perlman as the winner.

Mr. Perlman’s mother remained in the orchestra room, guarding the valuable violin, while her son went to the landing to wait for the verdict. The violin was covered by Mrs. Perlman’s coat.

A crowd of well-wishers, photographers, relatives, and fellow musicians went backstage to congratulate Mr. Perlman. In the commotion, his mother joined her son, leaving the violin unguarded.

About seven minutes later, Mr. Perlman and his mother returned to the orchestra room and discovered the loss.

There is an exit from the orchestra room, a one-way fire door, that leads to another part of the building, which has professional studios. The only entrance is through the landing door, where Mr. Perlman had been standing during the announcement. The missing instrument was in a black case, with a Juilliard label stamped on the case.

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