Skip to Content

Stay Informed

Walsworth Obtains $27 Million Verdict in “The Great Violin Caper” Breach of Contract Case

Attorney: Anna Greenstin Kudla, John A. Kaniewski | Published 12.19.17

In what is being called “The Great Violin Caper,” a team of attorneys at Walsworth convinced a Ventura County jury to award its clients $27 million who it found were duped out of purchasing a valuable classical violin by defendants Museum of Global Antiquities and its president. On November 27, the jury gave the plaintiffs $20,585,000 million (including punitive damages) in the fraud and breach of contract case and delivered a verdict related to five promissory notes totaling $6,639,492 million (with interest).

The case arose from a scheme in which defendants induced the plaintiffs to loan them $4.8 million and to invest an additional $2.225 million in classic violins, which, the jury concluded, never existed. The violins were supposedly shipped to the House of Stradivari in Cremona, Italy to be entrusted to Luigi Stradivari, the purported last known living decedent in the family of the great violin creator, Antonio Stradivari. Luigi was said to be the “King Of All Authenticators,” who also never existed. Only after money exchanged hands did the plaintiffs learn that Luigi Stradivari was “a fiction.” Based on defendant’s representations to induce investments and loans, the violins were supposed to sell for well over $300 million to specific Chinese billionaires, which, as the evidence strongly suggested, also never existed.

This case had a bit of everything, including a doctor; an elderly Italian authenticator with a young Russian bride; a prominent Russian concert violinist and part-time violin dealer sworn to secrecy; two Chinese billionaires; bribery; jewelry gifts to an Italian government official’s wife; a secret society; Japanese Samurai swords; a fake 1701 Carlo Testori violin (used as collateral); at least eight alleged Stradivarius violins, five alleged Del Gesu violins and an alleged Bergonzi violin; allegations arising from fraud, breaches of contracts, conversion, with aiding and abetting; the defendants going through three different defense counsels; and a failed bankruptcy litigation delay tactic.

Anna Greenstin Kudla and John A. Kaniewski of Walsworth represented the plaintiffs.