Meet the two faces charged with theft of Milwaukee Strad

Meet the two faces charged with theft of Milwaukee Strad


norman lebrecht

February 08, 2014

strad theft 1

Salah Salahadyn, 41, and Universal Knowledge Allah, 36, have been charged with robbery in connection with the theft of a Stradivarius violin from the Milwaukee concertmaster, Frank Almond.

Allah is also charged with possessing marijuana. The alleged getwaway driver, a woman, has yet to be charged.

Click here for the full criminal complaint.


  • Martin says:

    Universal Knowledge Allah. What a name… and the Swiss authorities disallow parents to call their son Jessico, because a handful of girls on this planet were given that name.

  • Rosalind says:

    At least with this happening in the USA, if they are found guilty they will be facing a pretty substantial time behind bars and won’t be roaming the streets again just a year or two later. I believe use of the weapon to assault Mr Almond will hike up their sentences very considerably under US law?

  • Surprised that these thugs even knew what a violin was.

    • Samuel says:

      Ah, thug – the new and sanitized yet equally demeaning replacement for the “n” word. Furthermore, the gross assumption that two African-American men would not know what a violin was. Reasoning behind that statement, Sir – or simply racist?

      • Rachel says:

        Couldn’t agree with you more, Samuel. Makes white people feel OK about being racist if they insult them.

      • Michael Schaffer says:

        I don’t understand this. According to the Wikipedia dictionary a “thug” is “a common criminal, who treats others violently and roughly, often for hire”.

        So if I understand this correctly, these young men attacked the owner of the violin with a taser device in order to take his expensive instrument from him. If that is correct, I would say that is a pretty violent act, certainly a criminal one. So why is calling them “thugs” suddenly “racist”?

        • PR Deltoid says:

          I agree with you. The term might be considered racist if it were applied only to black people. But it isn’t, a thug can be of any race.

  • That these fellows were too ignorant to know they couldn’t sell the violin, is another good argument for better music education…

  • Observer says:

    More info on the suspects. Universal Knowledge Allah changed his name from Shaudell Johnson in 1999 because of his involvement in a black supremacy group called theFive Percenters.

    Not clear why they’ve released the woman involved. She drove the getaway car. From what I’ve read she has 5 children and works for a tax office. Maybe because of her 5 children.

  • bratschegirl says:

    It’s only 9 in the morning where I am, but I’m confident that “Allah is also charged with possessing marijuana” will be the best sentence I read all day. I just hope Norman doesn’t have to do a Salman Rushdie disappearing act because of it!

  • Fake Muslim says:

    Wouldn’t “Allah” prescribe cutting off the perp’s hand for a theft conviction? Nah, wishful thinking…

  • Dave T says:

    stolen 1715 Stradivari… electric-not-the-heat Taser… Universal Knowledge Allah… Apple Jacks cereal box containing 27g of “green plantlike substance”… maroon minivan….loaded 357 revolver… apartment on Martin Luther King Boulevard… overheard barbershop chatter…

    You couldn’t make this stuff up!

    On second thought, actually you could… if your name were Quentin Tarantino or Elmore Leonard.

  • Neil van der Linden says:

    Who says they did not know what a Stradivarius is, Mr Rothenberg and Mr Osborne? But if you see a violin lying around and you think you can get away with it, you would probably realise what you have stolen until you find out. You need to have one in your home to really know. Or if they were typically out on getting this violin they knew. On a daily bases expensive paintings are being stolen with the thieves finding out that it is difficult to sell or realising that they will have to accept a low price.

    A lot of attention here now is being paid to their names, more than usual. A little research would indeed have indicated like Observer points out that these people are from a black power splinter group, that certainly would be considered heretic, as they consider themselves Godly. No Muslim would name himself Allah. Come on Mr Rothenberg, Mr Steinberger and others, a bit more interest in other people’s cultures and ideologies, how weird and obscure they may be.

  • Armin says:

    I normally sit by quietly, but I must comment on this post by William Osborne. Why must William Osborne always assume in his copious replies to Arts Journal that everyone is more ignorant than him?

    I find it quite a stretch to assume that these thieves have had insufficient music education. Are they not in their mid to late thirties? Was not music education quite decent in the USA in the 1980s when these men would have been in school?

    Always one to pipe in with little or no information, William Osborne will create the “rest” of the story, even if it doesn’t exist. No wonder he is a laughing stock amongst most serious musicians on both sides of the pond with his never ending mudslide of unsubstantiated claims, assumptions and accusations about all sorts of things – now including the case of the stolen violin!

    Now, what is laughable is the name of one of the thieves, “Universal Knowledge Allah.” Perhaps Mr. Osborne would prefer to change his name to “Universal Knowledge Osborne.” It does have a nice ring to it.

    • “Was not music education quite decent in the USA in the 1980s when these men would have been in school?” No, it was already being reduced by then.

      I would like to flatter myself that I have many enemies among the idiots of the world, but unfortunately I suspect most of the posts denouncing me here on SD, such as the one above, are authored by one disgruntled person using several anonymous socket puppet names.

      • Neil van der Linden says:

        I fully agreed with the critique on your reaction, which reeked of arrogance and racial supremacism, as I suspected. By apparently seeing all who disagree with you as idiots or disgruntled, and ‘puppets’, you prove that you are only able to make your point by defaming others. Very low, added to the lowness of your initial statements.

      • Armin says:

        No, Mr. Osborne, the above was my first comment here, but it is good to know I’m in the good company of other likeminded “idiots” who find your regular postings, and quite frankly most of your “work” (“Taking on the Vienna Philharmonic” etc.) – to be the work of a self loathing, narcissistic fraud. Returning to the topic at hand though, it is wonderful news that Mr. Almond’s violin has been returned. An impressive show of police work. Let’s hope that this situation won’t repeat itself!

        • Michael Schaffer says:

          It may surprise regular visitors of this forum if I step forward to defend Mr Osborne – after all, we have had many disagreements and debates here, or rather, we would have had debates if he hadn’t always reacted with the same passive-aggressive victim act, and I am among the many who he denounced as anonymous sock puppets (although the above is actually my full and real name).

          However, I did find his comment “that these fellows were too ignorant to know they couldn’t sell the violin, is another good argument for better music education…” quite funny in this context. I even laughed a little when I read it!

          On the other hand, I also agree with Armin’s more general observations and I laughed very hard about (is “about” the correct preposition here?) the “Universal Knowledge Osborne” quip. Neil also has a strong point when he says “by apparently seeing all who disagree with you as idiots or disgruntled, and ‘puppets’, you prove that you are only able to make your point by defaming others”. It’s just sad when some people abuse important subjects such as equal rights for women or extreme right politics as soap boxes for themselves to stand on and point their finger at others.

          Still, the “…another good argument for better music education…” line was really quite funny, so let’s give him 5 points for that, OK?


          • However isn’t it through our upbringing and social context that we know the value certain objects have in economical context. What is the value of gold, a Rubens, caviar, a Maserati, ivory or a Stradivarius by itself? Blessed are the children and the ignorant, because they are innocent, Jesus said. So it is better not to educate in economics, chemistry and art. That being said, talking about annocence, these suspects are innocent till proven guilty, aren’t they? By the way regarding them possibly bein sentenced, what kind of corrective communal labour could one expect? Working as cleaner in a concert hall, a catgut plant?

  • m2n2k says:

    A NYTimes article in connection with this theft last month contained the following: “Bonnie Magness-Gardiner, the program manager of the F.B.I.’s Art Theft Program, said that since 1985, the F.B.I. has had 11 cases of stolen violins in the United States, six of which were Strads. Of the 11, only three were known to have been recovered.” Two of those three are known to me – they were definitely not Strads. Therefore apparently at least five out of six Strads have not been found in nearly thirty years. That is not an encouraging statistic which shows that “safe” distribution of Strads may be easier than most of us would like to believe and that thieves – at least the smarter ones – do know about it.