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Stolen cello worth €1.3 million returned to French musician after Facebook appeal

AFP | This file photo taken on February 27, 2003 shows French cellist Ophelie Gaillard performing after being named best soloist at the Victoires de la Musique Classique.

A rare 18th century cello, which was stolen at knifepoint on February 15 from an award winning-musician outside her Paris home, was returned on Saturday after her social media appeal went viral.


"I received an anonymous call late in the morning saying that my cello was inside a car in front of my house," soloist Ophelie Gaillard, 43, told AFP.

She found the car with a window smashed and the famous cello in "good condition" in the car's back seat.

Facebook appeal

When the cello was first taken on Thursday, Gaillard immediately called the police and then took to Facebook, writing: "Help! My cello was stolen this evening in a red dark [sic] flightcase."  The post, which was accompanied by photos, was shared over 10,000 times and also spread to other social media platforms.

The knife-wielding thief had first snatched Gaillard's phone and then taken the cello worth nearly €1.3 million and on loan to her from CIC bank as well.

The exceptional instrument was made in Udine, Italy in 1737 by luthier Francesco Goffriller, son of Venetian master cello-maker Matteo Goffriller. Gaillard also said that her bow was at least 200 years old.

Instrument not easy to 'fence'

The police unit in charge of armed robberies confirmed the cello’s return, stating: "It's not an instrument that can be sold to a fence on the corner".

Of the traumatising experience, Gaillard said, "The theft was very violent; I have not been able to sleep for two days. I am so relieved to have found it. I'm coming out of a two-day nightmare it's a miracle."

In 2003, Gaillard was named the best new instrumental soloist at the Victoires de la Musique Classique, an annual French classical music award event.


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