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€2.4 million Stradivarius left on train by violinist

German police on Thursday said they managed to locate and return a Stradivarius violin worth millions to a young musician who forgot it on a train.

€2.4 million Stradivarius left on train by violinist
A Stradivarius stolen in the USA in 2014 before later being recoverd by police. Photo: DPA

Federal police in the western city of Saarbrücken said the woman reported the highly rare instrument missing after she left it in the luggage compartment of a train coming from the city of Mannheim, about 130 kilometres (80 miles) away.

Quick checks with the railway company revealed that the car in which she had been sitting had been attached to a train returning to Mannheim.

“One minute before the train's departure, the violin case was found in the last compartment and the musician, who was more than relieved, was able to reclaim it after verification it was her property,” police said in a statement.

“Her relief was well founded as the violin was a General Dupont Grumiaux Stradivarius dating from 1727 and worth €2.4 million”, the statement added.

Around 550 of the highly coveted violins handcrafted by Antonio Stradivari still exist, experts say, out of a total 1,100 by the 17th century Italian master craftsman.

They are highly prized for their incredible – and inimitable – sound. Many have experienced some remarkable adventures over the centuries.

In January 2014, a Stradivarius was snatched from the concertmaster of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra in Wisconsin by muggers armed with a stun gun. It was recovered in a matter of days.

In July 2012, a Stradivarius was turned in to a Swiss railway lost-and-found counter after an acclaimed violinist forgot it on a commuter train.

And in 2008, an American violinist left a $4 million Stradivarius in the back seat of a New York taxi. The driver returned it to its owner.

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Germany’s Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’

Germany's Scheffelbrücke might not seem like much to look at, but by some accounts it is the most expensive bridge in the world. Here’s what you need to know.

Germany's Scheffelbrücke: Everything you need to know about the ‘world’s most expensive bridge’
The Scheffelbrücke in Baden-Württemburg isn't known for its astounding beauty or engineering prowess - but it is known for its price tag. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

If you’re travelling near the Swiss border, you might come across the Scheffelbrücke – a quiet, two-lane bridge over the Radolfzeller Aach in Baden-Württemburg. 

By bridge standards, the 20-metre concrete construction seems relatively unremarkable – until you take a look at the engraved sign on the side which quotes the price tag. 

A sign on the bridge references the incredible price of the bridge: 1,520,940,901,926,024 Deutschmarks. 

That’s 1,500 trillion marks. 

Why is the Scheffelbrücke Germany’s most expensive bridge – and why is it so drab?

While Germany has the money and the landscape to have some expensive bridges, that over the Aach hardly rivals the Golden Gate, London Bridge or Sydney Harbour for elegance or ingenuity. 

The bridge, completed in 1923, takes the name of Joseph Victor von Scheffel, a German writer who will forever be associated with the glorified concrete slab. 

While one might suspect pork barrelling or crafty accounting as a reason for the astonishing cost – or perhaps a trick to reel in the tourists to the otherwise unassuming village of Singen – the cost is in fact real.

The high price is a consequence of the out of control post-World War One inflation which hit Germany, where money almost completely lost its value. 

A sign for the bridge reveals its extortionate building costs. Photo: Heinz Seehagel, Creative Commons.

Local authorities, wanting to boost the economy, signed off on the bridge as an infrastructure project. 

As a consequence, some local workers presumably became millionaires as a consequence – although there was perhaps little meaning to the idea of being a millionaire when a billion would only buy you a concrete bridge. 

Fortunately, Germany was able to bring inflation under control and wheelbarrows full of money were no longer required to purchase basic things.

And almost a century later, when not taking wacky inflation into account, Germany’s ‘most expensive bridge in the world’ no longer has that title. 

That goes to the Oakland Bay Bridge in San Francisco (no, not the Golden Gate but the other one), which cost 6.3 billion US dollars – or roughly 5.2 billion euro  – to build. 

The Oakland Bay Bridge however goes for eight kilometres and possesses some of the aesthetic qualities which one would expect from the most expensive bridge in the world. 

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