​Passage: The coda of a Stradivarius mystery

It happened this past week ... a noteworthy break in a decades-old crime.

Federal officials in New York on Thursday announced the recovery of a stolen Stradivarius violin potentially worth millions.

The nearly 300-year-old violin was stolen in 1980 from the office of Roman Totenberg, a renowned concert violinist and music teacher.


Totenberg lamented its loss in an interview with "Sunday Morning" the very next year:

"I am so used to take off this piece of cloth and this one and there is a violin and this there isn't. But you somehow hope that it will happen one day. You open this case that maybe there is the violin after all. That it was maybe all a bad dream!"

Finally, this past week, there WAS the violin ... recovered after an appraiser notified police a widow had brought it to him for evaluation.

The Totenberg family had long considered the woman's late husband the prime suspect.

roman-totenberg-performs-stradivarius-1950s-244.jpg
Roman Totenberg performs with the Stradivarius in the 1950s.
Courtesy of the Totenberg family via NPR

No charges are being brought against the widow.

The return comes too late for Roman Totenberg, who died three years ago at the age of 101.

But his family WAS on hand, including daughter Nina Totenberg, the legal affairs correspondent for NPR.

She says the plan is to sell the violin to a worthy musician who, in her words, "will thrill audiences in concert halls around the world."