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Dietmar Machold, dealer of expensive violins, gets 6 years in prison in Austria

By David Schoenbaum,

Dietmar Machold, 63, one of the world’s leading dealers in multimillion-dollar violins until he declared bankruptcy in November 2010, was sentenced to six years in prison Friday by Vienna’s Criminal Court.

“You played high and lost big,” said Judge Claudia Moravec-Loidolt as she pronounced sentence.

The sentence could have been 10 years, but the Austrian court considered his partial confession of guilt and acceptance of responsibility for losses estimated at $200 million as mitigating circumstances.

Machold was accused of misappropriating instruments consigned for sale by submitting them as his own to Central European banks to secure large loans. He was also charged with concealing assets, including large collections of antique watches and cameras. His ex-wife and her mother were each sentenced to one year of probation as accomplices.

At his peak of power and influence, Machold traveled globally and maintained shops and affiliates in Zurich, Vienna, New York, Chicago, Seoul and Tokyo. He served as consultant in a major donation of instruments to the Smithsonian Institution and the sale of a large collection to the New Jersey Symphony Orchestra.

Schoenbaum is a freelance writer.

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