The original instrument was reported stolen in 2010 by a London musician and was thought to have been found after a suspect in Sofia tried to sell it to a bus driver. However, a thorough examination revealed the violin was a different and decidedly less valuable replica.
"Experts examined the instrument in Sofia and it is thought to be a replica training violin, made in either Germany or the modern-day Czech Republic no more than 100 years ago," British Transport Police said in a written statement this week.
The British newspaper The Guardian said the 300-year-old Stradivarius, valued at more than 1.2 million pounds ($1.8 million), was stolen along with two expensive violin bows from Min-Jim Kym by thieves who distracted her at a restaurant in a London subway station. The instrument was one of about 450 Stradivarius violins still in existence.
Police said despite the high price tag, the notoriety of a genuine Stradivarius would make it difficult to sell without a severe discount.