British Man Loses 17th Century Violin Worth $400,000 After Leaving It on Train

A retired shipping consultant said he lost a 17th-century violin worth nearly $400,000 after leaving it on a train.

Rob Napier said Monday he did not realize the instrument — made by master Venetian craftsman Matteo Goffriller in 1698 — was still on the train's luggage rack until it began pulling out of the station.

"I think you can imagine the awful, kind of pit-in-your-stomach feeling," Napier told The Associated Press in a telephone interview. "My first instinct was: Can I jump on top of the train? But that was obviously stupid."

Napier said he was on his way home to Bedwyn, some 70 miles west of London, on Jan. 29 after retrieving the violin from an expert who had valued it at about $390,000. He called the train company, but by the time the train reached its final destination, the instrument was gone.

Napier, 67, said the violin belonged to his mother, a professional violinist who died in 2006. She bought the Goffriller from a dealer in 1945, saying later she wanted a violin to match the quality of those played by her colleagues in the well-known Ebsworth String Quartet, an all-female group, he said.

A reward of up to $20,000 was being offered for the instrument's recovery, Napier said.

The British Transport Police confirmed it was investigating the theft of a "very high-value violin."