A $50,000 reward was offered yesterday (May 6) for the safe return of a priceless Stradivarius cello stolen from a L.A. musician's home by someone who hauled it away on a bicycle, police said.

A $50,000 reward was offered yesterday (May 6) for the safe return of a priceless Stradivarius cello stolen from a L.A. musician's home by someone who hauled it away on a bicycle, police said.

"It is truly a cultural treasure that has been stolen," Police Chief William Bratton said at a news conference announcing the reward, which police said was offered by an anonymous donor.

Police believe the thief may live in the Los Feliz neighborhood where the instrument was stolen and were going to go door-to-door to blanket the area with reward flyers. In addition, the city's nearly 100 pawn shops as well as music shops overseas have been notified of the theft, Capt. Jerry C. Szymanski said.

"This instrument would be very quickly identified ... it would be very difficult to sell it," said Gail Samuel, general manager of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Association, which purchased it -- one of only about 60 made by master craftsman Antonio Stradivari -- about three decades ago.

The 1684 cello was valued at $3.5 million but is considered priceless because it cannot be replaced, she said.

"The value of this instrument is in its being played and being heard," she said.

The instrument was nicknamed the "General Kyd" for the man who brought it to England near the end of the 18th century. Cellist Leo Stern performed the British premiere of Dvorak's famous cello concerto on the instrument in 1896.

It was played by principal cellist Peter Stumpf, who was out of town when the cello was taken from a Los Feliz home at about 6:30 a.m. on April 25.


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