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Paypal orders violin to be destroyed

GUEST,Howard Jones 05 Jan 12 - 07:36 AM
caitlin rua 05 Jan 12 - 08:22 AM
Richard Bridge 05 Jan 12 - 09:30 AM
GUEST,The Walrus 05 Jan 12 - 09:45 AM
GUEST,beardedbruce 05 Jan 12 - 09:57 AM
katlaughing 05 Jan 12 - 10:31 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 05 Jan 12 - 10:50 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 05 Jan 12 - 10:57 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 05 Jan 12 - 11:03 AM
GUEST,999 05 Jan 12 - 11:10 AM
GUEST,Howard Jones 05 Jan 12 - 11:41 AM
SPB-Cooperator 05 Jan 12 - 12:05 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 05 Jan 12 - 12:28 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 05 Jan 12 - 12:33 PM
Richard Bridge 05 Jan 12 - 02:18 PM
Bert 05 Jan 12 - 04:18 PM
Howard Jones 05 Jan 12 - 06:44 PM
GUEST,999 05 Jan 12 - 06:56 PM
pdq 05 Jan 12 - 07:51 PM
Bonnie Shaljean 05 Jan 12 - 09:37 PM
Greg B 05 Jan 12 - 09:58 PM
JohnInKansas 06 Jan 12 - 04:06 AM
Howard Jones 06 Jan 12 - 04:30 AM
Will Fly 06 Jan 12 - 06:12 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 06 Jan 12 - 06:55 AM
Howard Jones 06 Jan 12 - 07:01 AM
mayomick 06 Jan 12 - 07:17 AM
Will Fly 06 Jan 12 - 07:22 AM
EBarnacle 06 Jan 12 - 09:32 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 06 Jan 12 - 09:57 AM
Howard Jones 06 Jan 12 - 11:40 AM
GUEST,999 06 Jan 12 - 11:45 AM
Crowhugger 06 Jan 12 - 04:23 PM
Donuel 06 Jan 12 - 05:28 PM
GUEST,Elmore 06 Jan 12 - 09:05 PM
GUEST,999 06 Jan 12 - 09:48 PM
MGM·Lion 06 Jan 12 - 11:45 PM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 12 - 03:29 AM
MGM·Lion 07 Jan 12 - 04:05 AM
Richard Bridge 07 Jan 12 - 04:27 AM
Jim Carroll 07 Jan 12 - 06:28 AM
Howard Jones 07 Jan 12 - 09:29 AM
Bonnie Shaljean 07 Jan 12 - 12:27 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 07 Jan 12 - 01:18 PM
Will Fly 07 Jan 12 - 01:22 PM
YorkshireYankee 07 Jan 12 - 01:28 PM
GUEST,999 07 Jan 12 - 02:00 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 07 Jan 12 - 02:34 PM
Jeri 07 Jan 12 - 03:10 PM
GUEST,999 07 Jan 12 - 03:34 PM
Bert 08 Jan 12 - 12:42 AM
Young Buchan 08 Jan 12 - 07:37 AM
Genie 08 Jan 12 - 02:10 PM
Bert 08 Jan 12 - 11:57 PM
Nigel Parsons 09 Jan 12 - 07:46 AM
EBarnacle 15 Jan 12 - 11:49 AM
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Subject: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 07:36 AM

I'm a little surprised this hasn't already been posted, since it's been around a few days and has now gone viral. This appears to be the blog which started it all:

Regretsy

The difficult question seems to me what is "counterfeit". It's one thing to identify a fake Rolex, but it's an entirely different situation with antiques and musical instruments where mislabelling and misattribution is more common, and may be no more than a difference of opinion which even experts disagree on. To order the destruction of an item, apparently without expert evidence from both sides in the dispute, seems unacceptable to me.

Even if an item were clearly identified as "counterfeit", what authority has Paypal to order its destruction? I fail to see how putting in their T&Cs gives them authority. Paypal does not own the item, and neither does the recipient since they have raised the dispute. It may be both illegal and undesirable to return fakes to the original seller, but surely in that case they should be passed to the police to investigate a possible criminal case. Surely destruction of an item can only be ordered by a court, or some other legally empowered authority, based on evidence that the item actually is a fake. But I'm not a lawyer.

Dealers are usually careful to describe something as "labelled as ...." rather than making definite claims, unless there is clear provenance. A private seller may be less cautious, but this is more likely to be naivety than a deliberate attempt to deceive (and most definitions of "counterfeiting" require dishonest intent).

Paypal are now investigating. My guess is that they'll decide it was a regrettable mistake either by the computer or an overzealous employee. That won't give me any reassurance that it couldn't happen again.

The message seems to be, don't sell instruments or other unique and irreplaceable items via Paypal. Unless they're bodhrans, of course :)


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: caitlin rua
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 08:22 AM

That story is absolutely horrifying - and I'd be interested in a legal opinion as to whether they have the right to destroy someone else's property just because they say they have. Otherwise, what have we got laws for?

> Paypal are now investigating. My guess is that they'll decide it was a regrettable mistake either by the computer or an overzealous employee. That won't give me any reassurance that it couldn't happen again.

And if they decide it was a regrettable mistake, they are going to replace a unique antique violin how?

Perhaps if this shameful story goes viral it will help to persuade them. A meme on Twitter and/or Facebook can build up a true tidal wave of bad PR. And public reaction does count for something when it attains a certain level of critical mass. (Didn't Verizon just rescind a new $2 "convenience charge" because of the customer outrage it caused? I also remember that Facebook did an about-face PDQ in the wake of users' reactions when they tried to claim that they "owned" all the photographs which people had put up.) If the stink is big enough, the big boys will take notice.

This needs to go out in the blogs and Twitter/Facebook feeds of a few well-known musicians & journalists, with a request to Retweet or Share. THAT'll get someone's attention. If moral rights or wrongs don't impress Paypal, maybe international embarrassment will.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 09:30 AM

Has anyone a suitable address at which to harangue Paypal?

I have posted the regretsy link to my Facebook.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: GUEST,The Walrus
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 09:45 AM

Surely, by ordering the destruction of such an item (still the property of the seller, as payment had not been made) haven't both PayPay and the would be purchacer opened themselves up for accusations of theft and wanton destruction of property, with the appropriate legal measures to follow?

Tom


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: GUEST,beardedbruce
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 09:57 AM

http://www.violinist.com/discussion/response.cfm?ID=21665


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: katlaughing
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 10:31 AM

I'd be go to hell before some company could make me do such an horrific thing! The buyer should be ashamed and banned from owning any instruments, IMO. Who could be so "proud" of destroying such an instrument and showing off the remains?


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 10:50 AM

I checked Snopes & a couple of other urban legends sites and came up with zilch, so it sounds like the story's true. I also shared the link on Facebook (via Richard Bridge) and went on Twitter and tweeted it to a couple of journalists with a zillion followers each, plus newspaper columns, so we'll see what happens...


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 10:57 AM

It's been reported on hundreds of news websites and blogs, including those of "proper" newspapers. Mind you, most of them are reporting on the original blog, rather than confirming the facts.

Even if the story turns out to be untrue, the underlying basics are correct snd apparently not disputed by Paypal - their T&Cs say they may require a counterfeit item to be destroyed. Paypal say that's because it's illegal to return it to the seller. That may be the case, but I cannot see how Paypal has any legal authority to require its destruction.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 11:03 AM

And what about when it's not counterfeit? Someone saying it is doesn't make it so.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: GUEST,999
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 11:10 AM

And here's Mudcat's Beer and his buddy Danny raising money so kids from the Chateauguay Valley who come from less fortunate economic circumstances can have instruments and music lessons.

Perhaps the people responsible thought the stupid sh#t done on stages by mostly rock groups (lighting guitars on fire, taking sledge hammers to pianos, etc) was really cool.

I didn't do enough of anything in the '60s to understand this.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: GUEST,Howard Jones
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 11:41 AM

Bonnie, you're right. The identification of works of art, antiques and musical instruments is complex and often a matter of opinion rather than verifiable fact. To decide whether an attribution is correct requires expert opinion, and at the very least the seller should be allowed to put forward their own expert - that is what would happen in court.

Even if an attribution or a label is decided to be incorrect, that does not necessarily mean the item is "counterfeit" in the same way as a dodgy watch or designer handbag, or that the instrument is not of value in its own right. Counterfeiting law seems to be intended to protect trademarks and commercial activity as much as (perhaps more than) consumer rights. That clearly doesn't apply in these circumstances.

"Counterfeiting" required dishonest intent. We don't know whether the alleged misattribution was an honest mistake by the seller or done with intent to defraud, although the fact she has posted her story on the internet inclines me to the former view. However that should be a matter for the police and the courts to decide, not Paypal.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: SPB-Cooperator
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 12:05 PM

It might be useful to find out who the paypal employee was, and ensure their address and photo also goes viral, then he/she may think twice before makling such instructions.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 12:28 PM

Facebook friend just posted a link to another Paypal story on my wall. Interesting. An update on an article headed PayPal Continues War Against Regretsy, Freezes All Accounts & Halts Gift Exchange.

Now, why would Paypal want to do that, I wonder?

Link here, but you'll have to copy/paste cuz I couldn't get the clickifier to work:

http://consumerist.com/2011/12/paypal-continues-war-against-regretsy-freezes-all-accounts-halts-gift-exchange.html


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 12:33 PM

If at first you don't succeed...

http://consumerist.com/2011/12/paypal-continues-war-against-regretsy-freezes-all


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 02:18 PM

Paypal contact details here: -

http://www.screw-paypal.com/paypal_contact_information.html


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Bert
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 04:18 PM

The BUYER destroyed the violin. Sue him directly for its value.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Howard Jones
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 06:44 PM

Thinking about it, it seems to me that Paypal could use this justification even if there's no misdescription by the seller, and no actual or implied claims are made that the item is genuine. It is commonplace to describe instruments as "labelled as" or "attributed to" where the provenance is uncertain, and this is used by the biggest and most reputable dealers and auction houses in the world. However so far as Paypal is concerned, their T&Cs say if its counterfeit then to get a refund it must be destroyed .

Even if you know it's a fake - especially if you know it's a fake - then you'll be caught out by this clause. I once bought (not via Paypal) a violin stamped "Duke". Richard Duke was one of the great English violin makers but he is widely copied and there are thousands of instruments bearing his name. The person I bought it from told me it wasn't genuine, and the price I paid reflected only the quality of the instrument and not the label. I was perfectly happy with the purchase and it's a perfectly satisfactory instrument for its price. In my experience this is seen as entirely normal and acceptable practice in the musical instrument world and no one thinks anything of it. However under Paypal's rules, if I wanted a refund on such an instrument I would have to destroy it.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: GUEST,999
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 06:56 PM

I don't doubt what Howard just wrote. But lord have mercy, ya know? If that's a policy with Paypal, it needs to be rethought. What next?


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: pdq
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 07:51 PM

I looked at about a dozen websites where this case was discussed and all the stories go back to just one source: Regretsy (whatever that is).

The chances that this case is substantially (or entirely) bogus is huge.

Regretsy has a cartoon character with a huge middle finger saying "fuck PayPal".

They are clearly an activist group trying to cause PayPay damage.

That does not mean what was said is wrong, just unsubstantiated and suspect.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 09:37 PM

>The chances that this case is substantially (or entirely) bogus is huge.

Then why hasn't Paypal denied it outright? As I mentioned above, there's nothing in Snopes or the other hoax sites about it either, and this event is not exactly breaking news (though that doesn't rule out the rest of your point, i.e. that Regretsy may have some kind of ax to grind).

Of course it's always good to hear both sides of the story. So why doesn't Paypal give us one? If it's false, they could blow it out of the water. But they don't.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Greg B
Date: 05 Jan 12 - 09:58 PM

This is where the faceless corporations have to hire people (like museum curators) who have a clue. A good chunk of the decent fiddles in this world have a label inside them that reads something like "Antonius Stradiivarius, Cremona, Italia..."

Now we know damned good and well that it's nothing more than a fake label, and that the instrument is worth not $2,000,000 but maybe $2,000. They are, nonetheless, fine instruments built by the hands of fine craftsmen perhaps a century or two ago.

That someone would take a hammer to one...


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 04:06 AM

I have no idea whether it has any bearing on this matter, but PayPal has been reported as one of several websites/businesses who have been under "attack" by those associated with the "Anonymous" group, because they have refused to process money obviously related to that (and possibly similar) activites. (I think they may also have cut off transactions for associates of Al Q & Taliban organizations?)

There also are fairly large numbers of people who are not necessarily directly associated with such organisations who may be "sympathizers" and could easily launch their own small smear campaigns.

Others might launch something similar for "personal reasons" with little factual basis.

Without confirmation from more than a single source, or at least significant evidence beyond hearsay, most stories like this should be viewed with due caution. I won't have a further opinion until I see significantly more verifiable information on what happened (if anything did).

John


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Howard Jones
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 04:30 AM

I'd written a lengthy comment which has disappeared into the ether. I'll summarise:

Yes, this report may turn out to be a hoax. However Paypal's T&Cs clearly say that "If you lose a Significantly Not as Described Claim because the item you sold is counterfeit, you will be required to provide a full refund to the buyer and you will not receive the item back (it will be destroyed)." The scenario is therefore definitely possible.

A Rolex is either fake or it isn't. Things are less clear with art, antiques and instruments. Even if something is mislabelled doesn't necessarily mean there is a problem with it - reputable dealers and auction rooms are selling stuff described as "labelled as..." or "attributed to..." on a daily basis. Caveat emptor.

I very much doubt Paypal's dispute process is sufficiently sensitive to these differentiations or that they have the expertise to decide issues where even expert opinions may differ. And I question their legal right to require someone to destroy someone else's property.

Regardless of the truth of the original story, all this would make me very nervous about selling anything of this nature via Paypal.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 06:12 AM

I've seen dozens of old violins with "fake" Stradivarius labels inside them. And on eBay at that, with no claims of authenticity whatsoever. Labelling violins as such has been common practice for many, many years and no-one buying and selling these things takes it seriously.

It also has no bearing on the quality of the instrument - which may or may not be lovely to play, regardless of the fake provenance.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 06:55 AM

Y-y-y-you mean... you mean... the Stradivarius I had in college wasn't real???? Even after somebody went to all the trouble of putting in a label with modern typeface, just so I could read the name clearly? *sniff* #shatteredillusionsmaybetherereallyISnosantaclaus


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Howard Jones
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 07:01 AM

Exactly, Will, but whether or not the original story is true it raises doubts whether Paypal's procedures are capable of distinguishing between something like this and a dodgy watch, handbag or pirated software.

Given that their disputes procedure seems to be semi-automated, and even where humans are involved they are in a remote call-centre and probably instructed to do things by the book, it seems very likely to me that this particular scenario could very easily arise, even if this story turns out to be a hoax.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: mayomick
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 07:17 AM

It does sound a bit like a hoax to me -lamentable if true all the same and worthy of a lang rant to paypal .What if the name of the clerk turned out to be Jamie MacPherson?


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Will Fly
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 07:22 AM

My point, which wasn't clear enough, I suppose, is that the fiddle/label practice has been going on for such a long time - and on eBay - that it seems strange that one instrument should be singled out in this way, and that the purchaser wasn't fully aware of the instrument provenance. So why now?


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: EBarnacle
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 09:32 AM

I just went through a dispute resolution with eBay. In accordance with my stated wishes the truly counterfeit software was returned to the vendor for refund and my money was returned. Even though eBay owns PayPal, the end does not have to be destructive.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 09:57 AM

I think it's probably a good idea to link these two threads since they share so much common ground. The Ebay thread is:

'Vintage' instruments on eBay

http://mudcat.org/thread.cfm?threadid=142515&messages=4


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Howard Jones
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 11:40 AM

Why now? I suspect it was someone in a call centre applying the rules and procedures rather than using judgement. If one of the grounds for your dispute is that the item is a fake, it will put in chain a process no doubt designed for fake watches and pirated software. The person handling the claim will have a set process to follow which he probably isn't allowed to deviate from. Perhaps he should have escalated it to someone higher, but if he was following the procedure perhaps he didn't see the need.

The claimant says it's not what the label says it is. Perhaps an expert has confirmed it. In the world of dealers that's no big deal, unless there's a deliberate attempt to defraud, but it's possibly all it would take to trigger Paypal's "destroy it if you want to get a refund" response.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: GUEST,999
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 11:45 AM

I've ever had two problems with Paypal. Both resolved with no difficulty. I trust Paypal as much as I do any financial institution. As much as I do my elected representatives. That is to say I expect they will look out for themselves first and customers second. Sheesh, what's new?


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Crowhugger
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 04:23 PM

«I suspect it was someone in a call centre applying the rules and procedures rather than using judgement.»

I agree that seems very likely. Another factor that would add fuel to this kind of fire: A buyer's level of sophistication in dealing with perceived authority (in this case a big corporation) and pseudo-logic (attribution = counterfeit). People who normally yield to perceived authority without question--those who metaphorically always cross the street at an intersection--I think will be more likely to comply with illogical instructions. Those who routinely apply critical thinking--those who are, metaphorically, willing to j-walk through a break in the traffic--may be less comfortable obeying a command resulting from pseudo-logic, perhaps would be more likely to think through a situation for themselves and obey their own common sense.

When you put the two things together--simplistic procedure for a complex business AND a simplistically thinking, malleable person (yes, I'm making assumptions about that because I doubt that a confident, critical thinker would go along with PP's demand to destroy the instrument), neither the violin nor its seller stood much of a chance. I don't see how research by the violin seller would have found this potential hazard with PayPal.

The person being called the seller in this story is in fact a buyer of PayPal services. And that person apparently got screwed by nasty interpretation of nasty rules. If what seems to have happened DID happen, shame on PayPal for making it impossible for caveat emptor to be of any help to the consumer of their service who was selling the violin.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Donuel
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 05:28 PM

If this pay pal policy was not an abberant spoof or lazy ignorant rule following, approx 12 million violins violas and cellos would be destroyed. Of course this is no ones policy save for a minimum wage worker.

All Chech, German, English and French violins labled Stradavarios, in the 18th 19th and twentieth century 'copie de' was commonly ommited from the lable.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: GUEST,Elmore
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 09:05 PM

Can't understand why the pope would order a fiddle to be destroyed


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: GUEST,999
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 09:48 PM

I can't understand why the Pope!


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 06 Jan 12 - 11:45 PM

Bruce ~~'Paypal' = 'Papal' ???

?LoL?


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 03:29 AM

"Bruce ~~'Paypal' = 'Papal' ???"
Funny you should say that Mike - it had crossed my mind; don't laugh out too loud.
Early in the 20th century the custom in rural Ireland was for those living in remoter areas to gather at each other's houses or at a convenient crossroads on a Saturday night, where a platform had been erected, to hold a dance -(a practice that gave rise to DeValera's "maidens dancing at the crossroads" reference)
The church looked askance at this, arguing that young people should not be allowed to congregate unsupervised. Priests regularly broke up these crossroads and house dances, often forcibly, smashing musical instruments and shaming the participants by naming them from the pulpit - pretty much as had happened in Scotland a century or so previously.
One elderly lady we know still bears the scars of these attacks in the form of a burst ear-drum from a blow she received from an irate priest for attending a house-dance.
The crossroads dances disappeared sometime in the early 1940s and the house dances shortly after, due to a combination of clerical and political pressure - a description from Fintan Vallely's excellent 'Companion to Irish Traditional Music.':
"Intense conservative lobbying was engaged in by the Church beginning as early as 1925, resulting in the Public Dance Halls Act, 1935. Under this, dancing required a licence which would only be given to persons approved of by a district judge - but effectively by the local clergy in many cases - and failure to comply was a criminal offence. Over-zealous vigalante-style enforcement of the Act by some clergy damaged social, non-commercial house dancing in places, and this, combined with the clergy opening up their own halls, for commercial, morally policed dancing gradually shifted the social dance from private space to public. Many argue that this destroyed music, and terminally discouraged players. but its new circumstances evolved 'the band', the ceili band in particular, as the mainstay of music for dancing in Ireland, so opening a new chapter in Irish music history."
Jim Carroll


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: MGM·Lion
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 04:05 AM

Crikey, Jim! ~~ as they say, "Many a true word..."

;-}


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Richard Bridge
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 04:27 AM

The priesthood long was a force for evil in Ireland - and some say it remained so until recently or still is.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Jim Carroll
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 06:28 AM

Another morsel
Jim Carroll

To be read, until further notice, at the principal Masses, in all Churches on the first Sunday of each Quarter of the Ecclesiastical Year.

EVILS OF DANCING

Statement of the Archbishops and Bishops of Ireland issued at their Meeting, held in Maynooth, on 6th October, 1925.

We have a word of entreaty, advice and instruction, to speak to our flocks on a very grave subject. There is danger of
losing the name which the chivalrous honour of Irish boys and the Christian reserve of Irish maidens had won for Ireland. If our people part with the character that gave rise to that name, we lose with it much of our national strength, and still more of the high rank we have held in the Kingdom of Christ.
Purity is strength, and purity and faith go together. Both virtues are in danger these times, but purity is more directly assailed than faith. The danger comes from pictures and papers and drink. It comes more from the keeping of improper company than from any other cause; and there is no worse fomenter of this great evil than the dancing hall. We know too well the fruits of these halls all over the country. It is nothing new, alas, to find Irish girls now and then brought to shame, and retiring to the refuge of institutions or the dens of great cities. 'But dancing halls, more especially, in the general uncontrol of recent years have deplorably aggravated the ruin of virtue due to ordinary human weakness. They have brought many a good, innocent girl into sin, shame and scandal, and set her unwary feet on the road that leads to perdition.
Given a few frivolous young people in a locality and a few careless parents, and the agents of the wicked one will come there to do the rest, once a dance is announced without proper control. They may lower or destroy the moral tone of the whole countryside.
Action has to be taken while the character of the people as a whole is still sound to stop the dangerous laxity that has been creeping into town and country.
Amusement is legitimate, though some of our people are overgiven to play. What, however, we condemn is sin and the dangerous occasions of sin. Wherever these exist, amusement is not legitimate. It does not deserve the name of amusement among Christians. It is the sport of the evil spirit for those who have no true self-respect. The occasions of sin and sin itself are the attendants of night dances in particular. There may be and are exceptions, but they are comparatively few.
To say nothing of the special danger of drink, imported dances of an evil kind, the surroundings of the dancing hall, withdrawal from the hall for intervals, and the dark ways home have been the destruction of virtue in every part of Ireland.
The dancing of dubious dances on Sunday, more particularly by persons dazed with drink, amounts to woeful desecration of the Lord's Day wherever it takes place.
Against such abuses, duty to God and love of our people compel us to speak out. And what we have to say each for his own diocese, is that we altogether condemn the dangerous occasions, the snares, the unchristian practices to which we have referred.
Very earnestly do we trust that it may not be necessary for us to go further.
Our young people can have plenty of worthy dancing with proper supervision, and return home at a reasonable hour. Only in special circumstances under most careful control, are all-night dances permissible.
It is no small commendation of Irish dances that they cannot be danced for long hours. That, however, is not their chief merit, and, while it is no part of our business to condemn any decent dance, Irish dances are not to be put out of the place, that is their due, in any educational establishment under our care. They may not be the fashion in London or Paris. They should be the fashion in Ireland. Irish dances do not make degenerates. We well know how so many of our people have of late been awaiting such a declaration as we now issue. Until otherwise arranged it is to be read at the principal Mass on the first Sunday of each Quarter of the Ecclesiastical Year. The priests will confer with responsible parishioners as regards the means by which it will be fully carried into effect. "And may the God of Peace Himself sanctify you in all things, that your whole spirit and soul and body may be blameless in the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Thess. V. 23).

(Signed),
Patrick O'Donnell, Archbishop of Armagh, Chairman.
Robert Browne, Bishop of Cloyne,
Thomas O'Doherty, Bishop of Galway Secretaries.
6th October, 1925.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Howard Jones
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 09:29 AM

Here's the official Paypal response:

"While we cannot talk about this particular case due to PayPal's privacy policy, we carefully review each case, and in general we may ask a buyer to destroy counterfeit goods if they supply signed evidence from a knowledgeable third party that the goods are indeed counterfeit. The reason why we reserve the option to ask the buyer to destroy the goods is that in many countries, including the US, it is a criminal offense to mail counterfeit goods back to a seller."

Not very reassuring. Nothing to indicate that they understand the (admittedly subtle) distinction between a fake or copy instrument and a counterfeit. It is entirely possible - perhaps even likely - that the instrument in question was not made by the maker named on the label. This article sums it up nicely:

So you think you've found a Strad?


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Bonnie Shaljean
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 12:27 PM

"Ask" ????!

That's a different thing entirely, with a whole separate meaning. Somebody there is being disingenuous.

This sleight-of-hand terminology makes me trust PooPal even less, and wonder what the REAL story is even more. Instead of allaying doubts, this answer has stirred up new ones. They are sure not emerging from this scenario with much credibility.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 01:18 PM

My fiddle label says made in KwangChow, China. Did Antonius Stradivari
by chance ever live in China?


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Will Fly
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 01:22 PM

Of course he did, Sandy - and in France, Belgium, Holland, England...

He had a bike and got about a bit.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: YorkshireYankee
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 01:28 PM

Apologies for the thread drift, but... Jim C, that excerpt brings this to mind:
Trouble, oh we got trouble,
Right here in River City!
With a capital "T"
That rhymes with "P"
And that stands for Pool!


Full lyrics here

YouTube clip here

Meredith Wilson was a genius!


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: GUEST,999
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 02:00 PM

"My fiddle label says made in KwangChow, China. Did Antonius Stradivari
by chance ever live in China?"

Sandy, he preferred Peking cooking to Cantonese, Sandy. If you paid more than $50,000 for the instrument, you may be in for some bad news.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 02:34 PM

Well Bruce, it has some scratches that look like they may have been made by a bike. Now if someone can help me locate the bike that Will refers to and forensic testing shows a match.................


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Jeri
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 03:10 PM

I've got a Stainer 'copy'. If they told me to smash it, they'd be paying the $500-700 it's worth on its own merits.

Seriously, people who believe in labels on violins without expert confirmation are idiots. The world, however, seems to be changing to cater to and protect the stupid and clueless. Please not that I'm referring to those who should have enough sense to check things out and don't bother.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: GUEST,999
Date: 07 Jan 12 - 03:34 PM

Sandy, the situation is indeed dire, my friend. You see, the bicycle was first introduced to China in the late 1800s. The marks then would be unlikely to have been caused at the time of the violin's construction which would have been in the late 1600s or early 1700s. HOWEVER, all is not lost. If it is a 'real' imitation Srradivari, you could well be in possession of an authentic copy as opposed to a fake copy. Maybe not quite like hitting the 6-49, but hey, for musicians a find nevertheless.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Bert
Date: 08 Jan 12 - 12:42 AM

...The world, however, seems to be changing to cater to and protect the stupid and clueless...

Oh Jeri, how true that is!!!

That statement has got to be preserved as THE quote of the 21st. Century.

The fact remains is, that whatever Paypal said, it was the buyer who destroyed the seller's property.

It is just a pity that Paypal didn't tell the buyer to "Jump off the roof" because the idiot was probably daft enough to have obeyed.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Young Buchan
Date: 08 Jan 12 - 07:37 AM

Sorry. Probably my fault. I didn't realise how stupid Paypal are. But I honestly only asked them to destroy guitars and banjos.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Genie
Date: 08 Jan 12 - 02:10 PM

Banjos (and accordions), maybe. NOT guitars!


Bert's got the right idea. PayPal needs to instruct buyer who impulsively or vindictively destroy a seller's property to go take a long walk off a short pier.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Bert
Date: 08 Jan 12 - 11:57 PM

Guy Wolff had better not send any of his pots via Paypal.


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: Nigel Parsons
Date: 09 Jan 12 - 07:46 AM

Well Bruce, it has some scratches that look like they may have been made by a bike. Now if someone can help me locate the bike that Will refers to and forensic testing shows a match.................
Best of luck with that. According to one oft quoted source There are 9,000,000 bicycles in Beijing

Cheers

Nigel


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Subject: RE: Paypal orders violin to be destroyed
From: EBarnacle
Date: 15 Jan 12 - 11:49 AM

This article about parting with great instrumens appeared in The New York Times yesterday. Note especially the comments about playing instruments which may be "just as good."


Selling a 300-Year-Old Cello

Nigel Luckhurst/Lebrecht Music and Arts

Bernard Greenhouse with his Stradivarius cello in 1975

By DANIEL J. WAKIN

Published: January 13, 2012 (The New York Times)

On a cold day last winter, an ailing Bernard Greenhouse, wearing an elegant bathrobe and attached to oxygen, was wheeled into the living room of his Cape Cod home, which was festooned with paper cutouts of musical notes. Relatives and students, locals and caregivers had gathered to celebrate the 95th birthday of one of classical music's most respected cellists, a founding member of the famed Beaux Arts Trio and a beloved teacher. Young cellists performed for him, and then Greenhouse indulged in a martini and a plate of oysters. Thus fortified, he decided he wanted to play for the company. He picked up his cello and, though a bit wobbly, soulfully rendered "Song of the Birds," a Catalan folk melody transcribed by Pablo Casals, with whom he studied many years ago.

Abelardo Morell for The New York Times

The Countess of Stainlein cello, one of the few remaining Stradivariuses.

"And then he laid down the bow and praised the cello for its beauty," Nicholas Delbanco, Greenhouse's son-in-law, recounted. "He said it had been his lifelong companion and the darling of his heart." Indeed, the instrument, known as the Countess of Stainlein, ex-Paganini of 1707 — perhaps the greatest surviving Stradivarius cello — had been with Greenhouse for 54 years. It was his voice on numerous recordings and a presence at up to 200 concerts a year. Toward the end of his life, Greenhouse asked his nurses to lay the instrument next to him in bed.

But in a twist of exquisite poignancy, Greenhouse was not actually playing his precious cello that day on Cape Cod. It was an exact replica that was made especially for him, a beautiful instrument but not the Strad. As they listened to him talk of his love for the cello, his daughter Elena Delbanco and her husband grieved that he could not tell he was playing the substitute. "We knew that this was the beginning of the end," Nicholas Delbanco said. Five months later, Greenhouse died.

Despite saying that he wanted to sell his cello while he was still alive so that a worthy young musician might benefit from it, Greenhouse was unable to part with it. Now his family has entrusted the sale of the Countess of Stainlein to the Boston violin dealer Christopher Reuning, who this week will open sealed bids starting in the millions of dollars.

Much attention in the music world is given to the sale of Strads and other rare string instruments. The numbers are tallied up like baseball records: $15.9 million for the 1721 Lady Blunt Stradivarius violin this year; more than $10 million for the Kochanski Guarneri del Gesu in 2009. Reuning expects that the Greenhouse cello will match or exceed the previous record of $6 million for a cello. Behind the dollar figures, though, is a story of possession and loss, of performers giving up the instruments that have defined their artistic and emotional selves.

"It was the pride of his life," Elena Delbanco, a lecturer at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy at the University of Michigan, said of her father's Strad. "It was his soul mate. Until the day he died he could not bear to part with it.

"I would like him, were he around, to think that we did the right thing and be happy where the cello went," she continued. "I would like it to be loved as much by its next owner as it was by my father."

The master makers of bowed instruments flourished in northern Italy from about 1550 to 1750, when supreme craftsmanship, superior woods and varnish, enduring models and a highly developed apprentice system centered on a few families. The best-known were located in Cremona and included Amati, Guarneri and Bergonzi. But the greatest acclaim has belonged to Antonio Stradivari, or Stradivarius, as he was also known. Only about 600 instruments attributed to him are still in existence, including 20 of his prime cellos — made after 1707 in a slightly smaller size, called Forma B, and more adapted to solo playing. The Countess of Stainlein is the earliest known Forma B.

While researchers have suggested that it can be difficult to tell the difference in sound between old and new instruments, dealers certainly benefit from the mystique that keeps prices high. And musicians themselves talk of the old violins and cellos as repositories of secrets to be slowly discovered, sources of limitless color and nuance. Here is Greenhouse describing his instrument's sound, as recounted in "The Countess of Stanlein Restored: A History of the Countess of Stanlein ex-Paganini Stradivarius Cello of 1707," a book by Nicholas Delbanco that uses an alternate spelling of the cello's name: "The quality of sound is something that one wears, that adorns an individual as though it were a beautiful piece of apparel. The ear can be deceiving sometimes; sometimes I'll pick up one of the lovely modern celli in the morning and be very happy with it, but in the afternoon I'll ask what could possibly have pleased me." Sound is not fixed, Greenhouse said, "but with my Strad there was never a time when I've been disappointed." Greenhouse was a player of refinement and introspection. In a Beaux Arts recording of Schubert's Trio in E flat, the elegiac opening measures of the Andante con Moto movement convey everything beautiful about his playing. The vibrato is light and warm; the notes taper elegantly. The drop in the 15th measure to a low G sounds like a cat jumping onto a carpet.

Beyond their sound, though, the old instruments encapsulate history, passing through the hands of the world's great performers. The history of the Greenhouse cello has been traced to 1816 and Vincenzo Merighi, the son of a violin maker who played in La Scala's orchestra, becoming its principal cellist in 1823. Merighi later played quartets with Paganini, who bought the cello for his collection. The collection was consigned by his son, Achille Paganini, to a Paris luthier named Jean-Baptiste Vuillaume in 1846.

Count Louis Charles Georges Corneille de Stainlein-Saalenstein, an amateur musician and a host of musicales, appears to have acquired the cello in 1854, and it then passed to the Countess of Stainlein. After her death in 1908, Paul Grummer, a future cellist in the famed Busch Quartet, took possession. A collector in Aachen, Dr. George Talbot, bought the violin from Grummer in 1938. Nineteen years later, Greenhouse heard about the instrument and tracked it down. "I opened the cello case and fell immediately in love," he says in Delbanco's book. "The color of the varnish, the shape of the instrument, it was so beautiful, so very beautiful, and it seemed to me a great jewel." He paid what his daughter Elena described as a fortune for the time, although a tiny fraction of what it's worth today.

Through the optic of history, those in possession of these instruments are caretakers, not owners. For their players, the transfer to the next caretaker symbolizes the end of performing, the termination of an artistic prime, the memories of which reside in long-used instruments. "The violin is not only a friend," said Aaron Rosand, 84, once a prominent soloist in the tradition of the great Romantics like Oistrakh, Milstein and Heifetz. "It's something that you live with. Every day it becomes more dear to you. It's almost like a living thing. You treat it carefully; you treat it gently. It talks to you," he said. "You're caressing your instrument all the time. Parting with an instrument that has become such a wonderful friend is just like losing a member of your family."

In 2007, Rosand announced that he planned to sell his Guarneri del Gesu, the Kochanski, and donate $1.5 million of the proceeds to the Curtis Institute of Music, where he studied and continues to teach. He recently had back surgery and could no longer stand long enough to perform. "It didn't make any sense to tie it up," he said. Over the next couple of years, Rosand received offers, including some from noted players who came to try it out. "I could hardly bear to hear it played by someone else," he said. But their offers were not large enough. "I wasn't going to part with it just for admiration for someone's fiddle playing. Once I decided to sell it, I wanted to get the price for it."

Then he received a visit from a man he described as a Russian oligarch. Working through the dealer Peter Biddulph, Rosand flew to London with the Kochanski and checked into a suite at the Langham Hotel one day in October 2009. He resisted any urge to play it one last time. "I didn't have the heart to," he said. The next day, Biddulph and the Russian arrived at the suite. The mood was somber as the dealer examined the violin. They spent three or four hours in the suite, waiting for e-mail confirmation from Rosand's bank that the money had gone through. They ordered tea and filled the time with small talk about the violin's travels and Rosand's concert tour in the old Soviet Union. When the e-mail arrived, the Russians left, and Biddulph took the instrument to his vault. The price, according to Rosand, was $10.1 million.

"It's hard to completely express what it meant to me," Rosand told me last month when I spoke with him about letting his instrument go. "The agony, the tears I shed on just thinking about the parting." He made good on his pledge to Curtis, paid $2 million in taxes and is using some of the rest to help with his grandchildren's educations and to give to charity. He said he talked to the buyer about having other violinists use the instrument, but he received no assurances and does not know if it remains in a vault or under a violinist's chin.

Some musicians have taken other routes. Several years before his death, Isaac Stern sold his famed Ysäye Guarneri del Gesu to the Nippon Music Foundation, which allowed him to use it until the end of his life. The foundation buys valuable instruments and lends them out to top players. "It gave him some security at the end of his life, and it got him to continue to play on the violin," said his son, the conductor Michael Stern.

The conductor Lorin Maazel, who was also a violin virtuoso in his younger days, auctioned off his 1783 Guadagnini to an anonymous bidder for $1.08 million and poured the money into his Castleton Festival for young musicians. "It made my life complete as a musician," he said of his fiddle. "But a magnificent violin needs to be played and kept alive. I always knew I would have to part from it." The family of Gregor Piatigorsky lent his 1714 Strad cello, the Batta-Piatigorsky, to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it is on display in the musical-instruments collection. The loan agreement allows for it to be played on approval by the family. Museum officials said there had been only one request, and it was turned down.

Raphael Hillyer, the founding violist of the Juilliard String Quartet, was in his 90s and repeatedly spoke of his plans to sell his viola, a late-16th-century Gasparo da Salò. Twice, Hillyer summoned Christopher Reuning to his home in order to hand over the instrument. The last time was in November 2010. Reuning went to Hillyer's apartment in downtown Boston. The violist was seated at the dining-room table. He held his instrument up and offered it to the dealer to hold. Documents were spread out on the dining table. Hillyer asked Reuning a series of questions: What would it sell for? What is the commission? How long would it take? They talked for more than an hour, with Hillyer returning again and again to the same questions.

"He sat there clutching it in his hands," Reuning recalled. "I realized he was not ready to give it up. I told him, Why don't you keep your viola and we'll talk again sometime?" They made another appointment for just after Christmas, but Hillyer died on Dec. 27, at age 96.

"It's inconceivable that my father ever would have let it go," Jonathan Hillyer told me. "I think his life would have ended immediately if he did such a thing. It's part of what kept him alive. He played it every day, even when it got to be so painful to pick it up. It was his life force. If he had sold it, it would have been like he was giving up."

One day last month I met with the cellist Laurence Lesser in a barren practice room at the offices of the Lincoln Center Chamber Music Society. Lesser, 73, is a prominent teacher, performer and former president of the New England Conservatory of Music, and owns a 1622 Amati cello.

We talked at length about Greenhouse, whom Lesser described as a friend, and about the nature of musician-instrument relationships. I asked him to describe the sound of his Amati, and Lesser looked at me and said, correctly, "You want to hear it, right?"

He carefully removed the 400-year-old instrument from its case and pulled off a burgundy silk bag. Then he began to play, producing the extraordinarily mellow sound, singing but complicated, that musicians say is typical of the great instruments.

"I don't know how long I'm going to be playing," he said after he was done. "I may have huge medical expenses, I may need the money it will bring. How can I predict that? I don't know how I'm going to die or when, or what's going to happen in the family."
He had no intention of selling, he said, but if he did, it would be like selling his old house. Once out, you move on. "I'm not sentimental about these things," he said. "It's almost a person, but I still value people more than things." But as Lesser talked more about his Amati, the complicated nature of his attachment to it became more apparent.

"We respond to these old instruments because they feed us, they inspire us," he said. "Life has so many possibilities and such endless richness that unless you just shut down, you're always going to learn from the environment. For us string players, our instruments are our environment. It keeps stretching us, it keeps demanding of us, it keeps us aspiring to grow. And it's the same old wooden box. I know I love playing on this cello, and I love it now more than I ever did."

In early December, I visited Reuning's shop on the fourth floor of a generic office building in Boston's Back Bay. Inside, though, is the re-creation of an Old World luthier's shop. Violins and violas hang like bats in a glass-and-dark-wood cabinet. Stringed instruments in various stages of undress lie on work tables in the restoration room. The Paganini, Countess of Stainlein cello didn't fit in the shop's safe, so it sat in a corner in its scuffed black case. Reuning took it out of its case and brushed his fingers over its glowing, almost iridescent back. "This varnish is absolutely glorious," he said. He pointed out the Forma B's extra-high ribs, which make the cello thicker and create greater volume and resonance. The back is made of an expanse of maple, with its "flames," or rows of tiger stripes, so beautiful that other violin makers would recreate them with varnish on cheaper models made with poplar or willow.

Heirs entrusted with the sale of such instruments stand to make a significant amount of money, but they're also left with an enormous responsibility. "I began to worry about what was going to happen to it," Elena Delbanco told me. "Really worry, that somehow it would come to harm or I would make bad decisions about how to sell it, or it would end up somewhere where it wouldn't be played again."

So Reuning — who will receive a commission — devised an unusual sale in which the Delbancos would have an opportunity to review the sealed bids, giving them a chance to accept a lower offer if they felt it better honored the cello. That is, if they believed a lower bidder, like an investing consortium that lends out instruments, might mean it was more likely to be played.

"What we're hoping for is a bid that also makes emotional sense," Elena Delbanco said, "so that we feel really happy that some wonderful young talent is going to play it."

I asked her what she would do if confronted with a $7 million bid that meant the Strad would stay in the case and a $5 million bid that ensured it would be played. The extra money, she acknowledged, could be put to philanthropic uses — buying instruments for needy children, for example. "It would be amazing to do good," she said. "But you can't do good at the expense of the cello's future." At the same time, they don't want the Strad buried in a museum or in an oligarch's vault. "That would make us sad," she said, "but we understand we may not have control over that." Ultimately, she acknowledged, they would have to accept that the cello now had a caretaker other than her father or his family. "Once it's out of our hands," she said, "what can we do?"

Daniel J. Wakin writes about classical music and dance for The Times.

Editor: Joel Lovell


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