Valuable violin back in rightful hands

PHILADELPHIA - December 23, 2011 A rare violin worth $172,000 that was mistakenly left onboard a Boston-to-Philadelphia bus by a groggy music student from Taiwan has been found and returned to its grateful owner.

The young musician who lost her invaluable violin on a Megabus on Tuesday allowed her fingers to reflect her gratitude after her violin was returned.

Teen prodigy Mu-Chen Hsieh played her lost and now found violin; she is thrilled and lucky to have it back.

Megabus USA director Bryony Chamberlain said Friday that a cleaning crew recovered the instrument, which had been left in an overhead bin earlier this week after traveling from Boston to spend the holidays in Philadelphia with a host family.

The New England Conservatory student got on a Megabus in Boston with the 176-year-old violin but got off without it late Tuesday, police said.

"It could have been quite a tragedy on Christmas, but in the end we were able to trace down the violin and put it back as soon as we could," Chamberlain said.

The 19-year-old student, Muchen Hsieh, told investigators that she left the instrument in an overhead bin and only realized she had forgotten it after she had been picked up.

The violin was lent to her by the Chi Mei Culture Foundation in her native Taiwan while she studies in the U.S.

Hsieh said she initially called the bus company to see if the instrument had been found, but she was told it wasn't on board.

Megabus offers low-cost express bus service to more than 70 cities in the U.S. and Canada.

She also reported the loss to police, who later called the bus' cleaning company and eventually the rare instrument was returned.

"It is such a relief," said Mu-Chen. "The first thing I did was call my parents. It was like 11:00pm at night for them, and they were like 'Thank God'. They were happy, and I am so relieved."

Hsieh was so happy she hugged detectives and played her violin during a police news conference Friday afternoon.

The violin is worth more than $170,000. It turned up Thursday night after Philadelphia Police turned up the heat after Mu-Chen's story was broadcast on Action News.

Losing it permanently could have literally ended her performance career.

The Christmas reunion in West Philadelphia of brilliant young musician and highly valuable violin makes for a perfect Christmas miracle and a happy holiday ending to the drama.

Lt. John Walker said people always hope for Christmas miracles around this time of year.

"In this case, we got one," said Lt. Walker.

So the violin, made in 1835 in Naples, Italy is back in the rightful hands Friday night, and Mu-Chen is promising to never let it out of her sight when she travels again.

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