The story of this instrument made during Stradivari’s ‘Golden Period’ is really quite remarkable in that the violin was stolen not once, but twice from its former proprietor, the Polish violinist Bronislaw Huberman (1882–1947). The first theft occurred in 1919, when the instrument disappeared from Mr. B. Huberman’s hotel room in Vienna. On that occasion, the police caught the thief after three days and recovered the violin. The instrument was stolen for a second time on 28 February 1936, from a dressing room in Carnegie Hall while Mr. B. Huberman was giving a recital with his Guarneri del Gesù violin one floor below. The violin was apparently stolen by a café violinist by the name of Julian Altman, whose mother served as his accomplice. There is another theory, however, which claims Mr. J. Altman was given the instrument by a ‘buddy’ of his, who was a patron of the Russian Bear Café, located in the back of the Carnegie Hall. Whatever the case may be, Mr. J. Altman was later incarcerated in the Litchfield County Correctional facility in Connecticut, USA, for having abused his wife’s grandchild. Before he died there, on 12 August 1985, he managed to confess to his wife, Mrs. Marcelle Hall, the real origin of ‘his’ instrument. Shortly after Mr. J. Altman’s death, his widow had the violin authenticated and then negotiated a reward for its return. In 1987, its legal owners, Lloyd’s of London, regained its possession.
More information: Antonio Stradivari Set 1, Volume 3, Page 92