A 260-Year-Old Stradivarius Left On The Roof Of A Car
In 1967, David Margetts had risen to second violin in a string quartet at UCLA. So great was his promise, apparently, that he had been allowed to borrow a rare Stradivarius violin from the university. Not only was it one of about 600 left in the world, but this particular instrument was the Duke of Alcantara, named for its original owner, a Spanish nobleman. It is believed, at one point, to have been owned by Napoleon. The fact that it was lent to Margetts speaks deeply of the trust the university had in him. Anyway, he left it on top of his car when he drove away from a grocery store.
Pax Ahimsa Gethen/Wikimedia CommonsLike you do with stuff that regularly winds up in the Smithsonian.
At least, he thinks he might have. It also might have been stolen from the unlocked car while he was in the store. He's not really sure what happened. In any case, according to family lore, it ended up on the side of a road, where a woman initially mistook it for a baby. A tragically deformed, violin-shaped baby? Whatever. She eventually gifted the violin to her nephew, who lost it as part of a divorce settlement to Teresa Salvato, who decided this was as good a time as any to take up the violin. Her teacher, the first person to come across the Duke in 27 years who had any inkling of its value, took it to a dealer, who identified it from a photo in a book about its creator. It had the same scratches on the back. It was worth $800,000.
Salvato, who learned from the dealer that the violin was listed in a registry as stolen, took this information to UCLA in the spiritual, if not physical, form of letters cut out of magazines. After she refused to give it back to them, she was somehow surprised when campus police officers started paying her visits. This was 1994 Los Angeles, so frankly, she got off light. The question of who owned the violin was brought to court, but eventually Salvato settled, surrendering the violin in exchange for a payment of a fraction of its worth. We're talking about 1/70th of its worth. We don't know what they did to her to get her to accept that deal, but don't mess with classical musicians, people. They might not look threatening, but they're ruthless.
A Pensioner Found A $1 Million Lottery Ticket In The Trash
In late 2005, a story played out in front of a small-town Massachusetts grocery store so heartwarming and unbelievable that if it happened in a movie, you'd roll your eyes while making fart noises. An 83-year-old man named Edward St. John was digging through the trash, so you already know it wasn't his best day, when he found a $1 million lottery ticket. Roll the jaunty closing credits while you mutter "What about the guy who threw it out? Not a very good day for him, now was it?"