When John Maughan stole a violin from a sandwich shop outside London's Euston station in 2010, he apparently didn't realise quite how valuable it was.
He went on to offer it for £100 to a bus driver, who refused, saying: “My daughter already has a recorder.”
The violin in question was a genuine Stradivarius, made in Italy in 1696. One of only 450 in the world made by the legendary violin maker Antonio Stradivari, it sold at auction this week for £1.4 million.
Mr Maughan, 32, was later jailed for the theft, from acclaimed musician Min-Jin Kym, as she sat in the Pret A Manger with her cellist boyfriend.
The instrument went missing after the theft, and was only recovered in July this year, after an almost three-year search. It was found with minor damage at a property in the Midlands.
When it was found, Korean-born Ms Kym, 35, spoke of her elation. She said: “The loss of the instrument and the acute responsibility I felt, was at the back of my mind at every moment of the day.
“I’ve now gone from devastation to the other end of the scale."
Along with the violin a £62,000 Peccatte bow and a bow made by the School of Bazin, valued at £5,000, were recovered.
The violin was sold by Ms Kym's insurers, who had already paid out upon its loss. Kym has since had to move on to a new model.
Jason Price, director of the auction house Tarisio, which sold the violin, said: “We congratulate the new owner and wish them the best of luck and success with the violin. We are delighted that it will be played and enjoyed for many more years to come and that it will actively contribute to the musical vibrancy of this country through the festival.”
According to the Evening Standard, buyer is thought to be a British music festival led by an English violinist.
The auction house said a portion of the proceeds and sales commission will benefit the authorities who helped with its recovery.