From his workshop in the northwest suburb of Prairie Grove, fifth-generation master luthier Paul Becker transforms wood, strings and glue into precious instruments that sell for $36,000.
The family business traces its origins to Becker’s great-great-grandfather, Herman Maclett, who began making violins in the mid-1800s in Chicago. Today, Carl Becker & Son produces handmade violins, violas and cellos, cherished by musicians around the world.
But none are likely to match the value of the $3 million Davidoff Stradivarius, considered by experts to be “the world’s largest violin“, which was stolen from the New York apartment of famous violinist Erica Morini a few days before his death in 1995.
Despite enough suspicious characters to fill a mystery writer’s living room, the heist still tops the FBI’s list of top 10 unsolved artistic crimes.
This weekend, Becker is featured in a true-crime documentary produced by ABC-owned WLS-Channel 7. /7 streaming channel and on Roku, Fire, Apple and Android TV.
Becker offers insight into what makes a good violin and why he thinks Morini’s Stradivarius must still exist somewhere.
• Get the full report and more from Chicago’s media at robertfeder.com.