Moldovan apologizes for ‘unfortunate’ confiscation of violinist’s Stradivarius


A Christie’s staff member arranges a display of a Kreutzer Stradivarius violin at the Christie’s Spring Auction premiere in Hong Kong, May 21, 2014. Photo: EPA / Jerome Javre

The Moldovan Minister of Culture apologized for the “excessive zeal” of customs officials after confiscating the Stradivarius violin of internationally awarded violinist Alexandra Conunova at the airport.

Customs employees at Chisinau airport have filed a criminal complaint against the famous Moldovan violinist for not declaring the value of the instrument, estimated at 2 million euros, to the customs services.

“It is unfortunate confusion and overzealousness. The Ministry of Culture is in contact with Alexandra and is doing everything to clarify the situation, ”said Minister of Culture Sergiu Prodan.

Officials had argued that Conunova did not declare the violin and that it was only detected during routine customs checks at the airport. Consequently, a criminal complaint was filed for attempted smuggling.

“An investigation is underway into this matter with Interpol to ensure that the papers are legal,” customs spokesperson Olesea Puscasu told BIRN.

The confiscated violin does not actually belong to Conunova but to the Swiss violin master Cédric Berger, who loaned it to him for concerts.

Conunova has won international awards at the Hanover, Moscow, Bucharest, London and Singapore international music festivals for her playing.

She started studying the violin at the age of six with teacher Galina Buinovschi at a music school in Chisinau. Subsequently, she continued her studies with Professor Krzysztof Wegrzyn at the University of Music in Hanover.

The Stradivarius, manufactured by Giovanni Battista Guadagnini and named “Ida Levin”, is currently kept in a safe at the Moldovan customs services.

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