Seized violin to be loaned again to virtuoso: Austrian central bank

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Star musician Patricia Kopatchinskaja is to get her violin back after it was seized by Swiss customs officers last weekend, the instrument's owners, the Austrian central bank OeNB, said Thursday.

The rare 1741 Italian-made Guarnerius del Gesu violin called the "ex-Carrodus" is now in Vienna after being recovered from Zurich airport on Wednesday, OeNB spokesman Oliver Huber told AFP.

"And there is nothing to stop it being loaned back" to the Moldova-born virtuoso who lives in Switzerland, Huber said.

Kopatchinskaja, 33, was questioned by Swiss border guards about the 4.5 million euros (6.0 million dollar) instrument when she flew into Zurich airport on Saturday.

As she had not declared the violin upon entry into Swiss territory, the instrument was confiscated by guards and Kopatchinskaja risked a fine of up to 700,000 Swiss francs (488,000 euros, 651,000 dollars).

Swiss residents are required to declare purchases abroad of above 300 Swiss francs in order to pay duty and tax.

The "ex-Carrodus" is one of 36 priceless violins -- including a number of Stradivari -- that the Austrian central bank owns and lends to promising young musicians.

Kopatchinskaja, who also has Austrian nationality, has garnered international awards and critical acclaim in recent years.

© 2010 AFP

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