Famous German cello soloist Alban Gerhardt claims that his cello bow, valued at $20,000, was damaged by TSA inspectors at Washington's Dulles Airport on Feb. 6.
The bow, which Gerhardt places in a travel case along with the instrument, arrived in Chicago snapped in half and possibly damaged beyond repair.
“My bow must have moved out of its cover, and instead of putting it back in, they just slammed the case shut and broke the bow that way over the bridge,” Gerhardt told Strad Magazine.
Gerhardt was on a trip from Berlin to Madison, Wisconsin, where he was scheduled to perform with the Madison Symphony Orchestra.
After checking the instrument in Berlin, Gerhardt rechecked it in Washington D.C. as he passed through customs. It was okay at that time, but he discovered the damage upon arriving at Chicago's O'Hare airport, along with an inspection notice from the TSA.
"It truly is a shame about Mr. Gerhardt’s bow. I recommend that he file a claim to our Claims Management Branch for their review and adjudication," said TSA spokesperson Lisa Farbstein. "I would encourage him to file the claim as soon as possible with his flight information so that the airport might be able to retrieve any potential videotape of his case being opened."
The bow was made by the 19th-century German maker Heinrich Knopf.
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Gerhardt purchased it in 2001. He plans to get the snapped bow repeaired in Berlin, which is unlikely.
Gerhardt said that he has been traveling internationally since 1990 and "nothing ever happened.”
Source: Strad Magazine