A rare violin worth US$172,000 that was mistakenly left onboard a Boston-to-Philadelphia bus by a groggy music student from Taiwan has been found and returned to its grateful owner.
Megabus USA director Bryony Chamberlain said on Friday that a cleaning crew recovered the instrument, which had been left in an overhead bin earlier this week. The New England Conservatory student got on a Megabus in Boston with the 176-year-old violin, but got off without it late on Tuesday, police said.
“It could have been quite a tragedy on Christmas, but in the end we were able to trace down the violin and [give] it back as soon as we could,” Chamberlain said.
The 19-year-old student, Hsieh Mu-chen (謝慕晨), told investigators that she left the instrument in an overhead bin and only realized she had forgotten it after she had been picked up. The violin was lent to her by the Chi Mei Culture Foundation in Taiwan to use while she studies in the US.
Hsieh said she initially called the bus company to see if the instrument had been found, but she was told it was not on board. Megabus offers low-cost express bus service to more than 70 cities in the US and Canada.
She also reported the loss to police, who later called the bus’ cleaning company, and eventually the rare instrument was returned. Hsieh was so happy she hugged detectives and played her violin during a police news conference on Friday afternoon.
Police lieutenant John Walker said people always hope for Christmas miracles around this time of year.
“In this case,” he told the Philadelphia Inquirer, “we got one.”
Chi Mei Culture Foundation’s Chi Mei Museum in Tainan is not only known for its large collection of exquisite violins, but also for its generosity in lending them for free to Taiwanese prodigies, sources said.
Of the 468 world-class violins that Chi Mei Corp (奇美實業) founder Hsu Wen-long (許文龍) has collected from around the world, a number of them are on loan to young virtuosos studying abroad.
“A fine violin tends to fetch NT$3 million [US$99,108] or even NT$4 million, an amount beyond the reach of the average family, so the museum, with Hsu’s support, has been lending its violins to local musicians,” Chung Tai-ting (鍾岱廷), an adviser to the museum, was previously quoted as saying.
The museum does not charge the borrowers, although they must pay an insurance premium of about NT$12,000 a year.
Additional reporting by staff writer