RIN:155 homepage: www.fritz-reuter.com .

English Report Summaries-Available German Titles



(for more on Nantscheff, read THE GREAT AUSTRIAN VIOLIN HEIST)

The Strad magazine, in their May 1992 issue, on page 396, started an article with the statement:

How wrong you can be…

“Rare master violin at the Vienna Dorotheum, announced the Viennese auction house.  They printed a special flier with their catalogue, picturing the instrument in garnish technicolor.  The anonymous (?) client who pawned a violin labelled Joseph Guarneri filius Andrea, 1714, appeared to have landed the auction house with a gold mine—and himself with a princely 800,000 shillings.  Bidding was to start at 800,000 shillings (£400,000) as a third of the value, and was expected to reach two million.

    Experts were brought in to confirm the identification and all seemed to be running smoothly.  That is until violin maker, Jacob Saunders, recognized that this ‘Altitalienische Meistergeige’ was actually the work of a fellow British maker, and Strad contributor, Roger Hargrave.  Hargrave, who specializes in copies, was contacted and offered to fly over and confirm the identification.  It was not what the auction house wanted to hear, and, despite the fact that Saunders stuck, rightly, to his guns, others still insisted that the instrument was genuine, even after it had been opened it up.  Eventually, the so-called Guarneri was withdrawn.  It’s a wicked world, but our Yorkshireman, Hargrave filius Ronald, is not complaining—“All this fuss got me telly!’”


The above article highlighted the spurious assumption, that it was an “anonymous” client.  If the Strad had been more inquisitive it would have learned some savory details of the affair.  According to some prominent Austrian sources, the not so anonymous client was Professor Nikolai Nantscheff, who lives in Czechoslovakia and was engaged in Vienna as a tutti-violinist.  He is also known as an alleged sales agent for Dietmar Machold, Fine Violins, situated in Vienna, as well in Bremen and other cities.


Because of this scandal, the Dorotheum’s treasurer, Mr. Ferdinand Kugler, who was personally responsibly for accepting the “Guarneri” violin, based on Bear’s certificate of authenticity, was fired. (The Dorotheum is Austria's publicly run auction/monetary lender on items of value).


The highly respected violin makers, Jacob Saunders and Roger Hargrave, used to work for Machold in Bremen.  It was there, in 1979, when Hargrave made a copy of an original violin; made, certified and labeled ‘Joseph Guarneri filius Andreae, Cremona 1714.’  The original violin he copied was in the possession of Machold and eventually sold by his firm.  Apparently, the violin was sold without the original Bear certificate, since it was used, without knowing the detailed circumstances, with the copy of Hargarve’s 1979 reproduction.

Some unanswered questions remain:


1.    What was that false label doing in the copy?
  (i.e. no label stating that the copy was made by Hargrave)

2.    From where did Nantscheff obtain the violin?
  (Nantscheff offered the reproduction for sale as an original Guarneri)

3.    From where did Nantscheff obtain the original certificate?
  (Normally, the certificate would only be with the original violin--which was in the possession of Machold Fine Violins)

4.    Who paid for the release of the violin from the Dorotheum?
 (After the auction house found it was a fake, who reimbursed the Dorotheum for the money it lent on the now-apparent copy)

5.    Why were no criminal charges laid against Nantscheff, the “anonymous” (?) client? (The Dorotheum is a State and Tax Support institution that sells and lends on normally accepted evidence of authenticity--Why didn't they press charges?)

6.    Whose “cloud” prevented an investigation by the Vienna police and the local states attorneys office?

7.    Were members of the International Violin “Maffia” involved in this scam?
(Where big business and large amounts of money change hands, how did this matter get "swept under the rug"

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What is Nantscheff’s personal connection to the following institution and individuals:

New Jersey Symphony Orchestra, Prof. Dietmar Machold Rare Violins,

Dr. Herbert Axelrod, and local law enforcement agencies in Vienna?

If you have any information on who Nikolaj Nantscheff is,
please feel free to email me.


The Nantscheff Collection

Appraisal of 9 Instruments and Bows

Machold's Appraisal Invoice

Letter of Sale

Letter of Agency

News Media Clippings/Publicity

Instrument Ownership Timeline

Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu, Cremona 1737 „ex Stanley Goodman“

Joseph Guarnerius del Gesu, Cremona 1732 „ex Ferni, Count Cessol“

Antonius Stradivarius, Cremona 1694, „ex Muir-Mackenzie“

Antonius Stradivarius, Cremona 1669, „ex Clisbee“

Antonius Stradivarius, Cremona 1725, „ex Leonardo da Vinci“

Antonius Stradivarius, Cremona 1679, „ex Parera“

Antonius Stradivarius, Cremona 1690, „ex Sun“

Antonius Stradivarius, Cremona 1670, „ex Sachs“
Viola des Gasparo da Saol, Brescia, „ex Berlin Philharmonic“


If you have any information on who Nikolaj Nantscheff is,
please feel free to email me.