Antonio Stradivari is the most famous violin maker or luthier of all time. Born in 1644, he worked from a studio in Cremona, Italy until his death in 1737. Besides violins, he made violas, cellos, guitars, and even some harps.
Stradivari was a prolific luthier. He made over 1,100 string instruments during his lifetime, and about 650 survive today. But for every genuine Stradivari violin, there are thousands of fake ones.
Many fake Strads are easy to detect. They may bear a label that reads “Made in Czechoslovakia,” obviously a fake, since Stradivari never left Italy, and Czechoslovakia wasn’t created until 1918, nearly 200 years after Stradivari’s death.
But other fakes aren’t evident to the average person. For instance, an authentic Stradivari label will have only the first digit (1) of the date. Stradivari filled in the rest of the year (e.g., 1695 or 1713). Many fakes have two digits at the beginning of the year or even the entire year printed.
Luthiers can identify other fakes by the instrument’s age. For example, an authentic Strad will be around 300 years old and show signs of age. Peg holes will have been worn due to years of use and will show signs of peg bushing – adding additional wood to the area so the peg hole is smaller and pegs don’t slip. Also, during Stradivari’s era, violin necks were shorter than those on modern violins. So Stradivari violins will have a neck graft where a longer, modern neck was attached. More scientific methods of detecting fake Strads involve using forestry experts to identify the type and age of wood or chemists to analyze the composition of the varnish.
But good copies of Stradivari violins can fool even the most experienced experts. Nineteenth-century French luthier Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume was a highly-skilled luthier who made copies of Strads. Vuillaume’ s violins now are sought-after on their own merit.
Villaume’s violins were exceptionally good copies, and he didn’t sell them as Strads. But Dietmar Machold, once a world-famous expert in rare violins, passed off fakes as real Strads, sometimes selling them for millions. Machold eventually was convicted of fraud and jailed after his network of businesses, characterized by some as a Ponzi scheme, fell apart.
Unfortunately, violin-making isn’t the only area with fakes and fraud. Although we like to think of real estate as a solid investment (after all, what’s more tangible than land), those investments sometimes aren’t as they appear or are fraudulent. This article discusses warning signs real estate investors should look for before investing to protect themselves from misrepresentations or outright fraud.
Real-Life Case Study
Many years ago, a lovely older couple (I’ll call them Chris …….