In Vienna, the city of classical music itself, a prominent rare instrument dealer named Dietmar Machold is on trial. He's accused of defrauding creditors by repeatedly securing huge bank loans using the same violins and other rare instruments as collateral. Worse still, prosecutors say some of the instruments may have been fakes.
This is a very high profile case — Machold is perhaps the closest thing to a rare instrument celebrity in the world. Bethany Bell, reporter for the BBC based in Vienna, says "This man became one of the world experts in rare instruments, but it was all built on sand. He lived the life of a rich man, he had a castle here in Austria, he had cars, but it was a façade."
After going bankrupt in 2010, Machold used a number of instruments as collateral for his debt, and many of these have now disappeared. There are also allegations that he may have written fake certificates for certain rare musical instruments, saying that they are worth much more than they are.
Though Machold has admitted to embezzling instruments, he has denied other charges about falsely certifying instruments as being rare or precious. Even still, Bell says, "it does raise the larger question: When do you believe an expert?"