Source AP ©

Stolen Stradivari violin returned to its owner in Austria

Austrian authorities returned a Stradivari violin worth at least euro 2 million (US$2.7 million) to its owner Wednesday, more than a week after it was stolen from a safe in the musician's apartment.

Interior Minister Guenther Platter, the country's top security official, personally handed over the precious piece to musician Christian Altenburger at a morning news conference.

Police said the instrument, which police said could be worth up to euro 2.5 million (US$3.4 million), was recovered unscathed in Vienna on Tuesday. Several members of a Georgian gang have been arrested in connection with the robbery.

Altenburger said he was "overjoyed," the Austria Press Agency reported.

Antonio Giacomo Stradivari is considered the world's master builder of violins and other stringed instruments, crafting more than 1,000 of them in the 17th and 18th centuries. Approximately 600 Stradivarius instruments are still in existence. Some are displayed in museums, while others are still played by the world's top string virtuosos.

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