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Fine Viola by Geoffrey Maingart Stolen from New York Mailroom

The one-of-a-kind viola was replaced in its case with a much cheaper instrument


A fine viola made by the American luthier Geoffrey Maingart has been stolen from the mailroom of a New York City apartment building. The thief then put a much cheaper instrument into the case to act as a placeholder, which suggests that the incident was carefully orchestrated.

Maingart sent the instrument to the New York City address on May 20. It arrived two days late, and because of the late arrival, the recipient was not able to collect the package — leaving the viola to sit in the building's mailroom for seven days.

Both police and the postal service believe it is unlikely that USPS is responsible for the theft, as they would not have known the contents of the package. However, it is likely that the doorman, and perhaps others living in the building, would have been aware of the recipient's week-long absence.

Made in 1990 in Antwerp, the viola is 16 5/8 inches long and modeled after an original by Varagnola. It was originally sold to the principal viola of the Los Angeles Philharmonic at that time.


You can see more images of the instrument here.

A respected expert in rare violins and bows, Geoffrey Maingart studied with the luthiers Adolph and Alfredo Primavera, as well as Andrius Faruolo. He has sold 18 major instruments by Stradivari and Guarneri del Gesu, among others, and continues his own work crafting fine instruments and bows.

Any sightings of the stolen instrument should be reported directly to the police. You can also contact Maingart himself on the Los Angeles phone number 320 985 5929, or by sending an email to [email protected].

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