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Harrell Left his Strad in a Cab...


Stephen  Fine
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Cellist Hits Wrong Note With Reward

NEW YORK (AP) - When cellist Lynn Harrell left his 325-year-old $4 million Stradivarius in the trunk of a taxi last week, it was rescued by cabbie Mohamed Ibrahim, who returned the one-of-a-kind instrument.

Harrell, 57, said at the time he would give Ibrahim a nice reward, but the cabbie was stunned Tuesday when he got a grand sum of $75 and no thank you note, The Daily News reported Wednesday.

``He broke my heart,'' Ibrahim, 52, said. ``He didn't even leave a letter saying `thank you.'''

Harrell's agent, Earl Blackburn, said the musician, who is on tour in Europe, made an error in judgment.

``Now that he's had a chance to reflect, he has written a letter and is sending him a second check,'' Blackburn said. ``He is horrified he forgot to leave a personal note, and he misjudged greatly the amount of the reward he wanted to give to Mr. Ibrahim.''

Blackburn would not disclose the amount of the second reward.

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In New York, $75 probably doesn't get you across the Brooklyn bridge in a cab. Unbelievable.

$75?

Seventy-five?

Why not $100 - at least that's a round number? Or what about the fee from his next concert? $10 000 perhaps. Plus a complete collection of his recordings, signed, and free tickets to his New York concerts in perpetuity?

Think of the heartache and expense he was saved by the thoughtful actions of the cabbie.

He's a great cellist, but this was a lapse.

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When does acting decent and good require a reward. I was taught to do the right thing because well its the right thing to do. The cabbie is just plain wrong to say that my reward wasn't big enough> The reward is the self-knowledge that you acted honorably.

That this point is even debatable points out the low ethical values that US society holds.

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That's true Ole'Bull, but I had no idea it cost so much just to cross a bridge !

I'm still convinced that moral integrity counts for more than an awful lot of $$$$$$$$'s. & I'd still have been chuffed as nuts to return the said musicians instrument, unharmed, without so much of a whisper.

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Cedar - there is a rather long tradition of giving rewards for the return of lost goods. I don't think it's an issue of "low morals".

It's an unequivocal way of expressing gratitude, a gesture that needn't cause the famous musician too much financial hardship yet makes a big difference to the cabbie.

Sure, the reward is in the satisfaction of doing the right thing.

Sure.

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It should be atleast $500, which is just like a token "thank you"!

$5000, looks more ideal, though. But it might have subtle complications (looks desperate).

$1000, maybe ballanced, if it wasn't a terribly big effort to bring the cello, and the payment for the job itself would not have exceeded $50.

It certainly isn't enough to intefere with reward for morality, It's just a little suplement to the "thank you" note.

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Miranda - do you mean me me, or me Lynn Harrell? I've already said what I would have done in his position (of course I'm not really familiar with his financial situation, but it's hard for me to imagine he couldn't spare a few grand). $5000 is about 0.1% of the value, probably about the amount it appreciates in week.

If it were me with the Strad, I would be so deep in debt as to not be able to afford the cab in the first place. For most of us, 0.1% of the value of our instruments is a few dollars.

[This message has been edited by Ole Bull (edited 05-23-2001).]

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I think that you're looking at it the wrong way Miranda. The man wasn't so disappointed in the $75 (which IS low) as the fact that it didn't even come with a thank-you note. When I go out of my way to do something for someone else, I expect a thank-you. Obviously the right thing to do was to return the cello, but it probably would have been much easier for the cabby to put it in "lost and found" at the cab co. I think the ideal gift would have been a well written thank-you note and tickets to Harrell's next few concerts in NY. I am sure though that Harrell (with the aid of a good PR agent) will right the situation... I just thought it was interesting that one could forget his $4 million cello in the trunk of a cab.

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Well the way the article read was that he was heartbroken when he saw it was only $75.

If it had been my instrument, I think I would have enclosed a note and a larger check. That said, I think it was pretty tacky for the cabbie to run to the media first thing. I know, I know, these things take on a life of their own but I think I would have kept my "heartbroken-ness" to myself. The article in the NY Daily News was accompanied by a large picture of the cabbie holding up the check, clearly showing the amount and signature.

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As far as Mr. Ibrahim knew, the cello could have been worth only a few hundred dollars. He had two options: 1)take steps to see that the cello was returned to its owner, or 2) keep the instrument - which would be theft.

So, are we supposed to pay someone handsomely ever time they choose NOT to be a criminal?

"Heartbroken?"

Grow up.

Rat

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Lymond,

Perhaps he actually meaned, not only a thank you letter, but something which also expresses it a bit. (But he couldn't say so directly).

If it were to be $75, it would indeed be better nothing at all, but a thank you letter.

Also, there are things a person wants money for, and there are things that a person wants a thank you for.

Why I'm writing about all this subject, I don't know. But perhaps I feel I know the right answers, even though I don't live anywhere near on this level.

S.Taylor

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Did he really run to the media, or did the Daily News (home of "Headless Man in Topless Bar"-type headlines) run to him and extract the quotes about the size of the check?

Context is everything, and I doubt that Mr. Ibrahim has a lot of experience in managing the metropolitan press.

Anyway, if it were me, I'd have done the nice note and tickets solution, plus maybe a nice round number on the check. Why stop at $75 when $100 (or $1000) looks so much more generous?

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I think it is the NY Post rather then the Daily News that is famous for "Headless Man Found in Topless Bar".

Though I doubt the media was terribly interested, I'm sure they had a beat reporter give the guy a call and ask if he had heard anything more from Harrell. ESPECIALLY if I were disappointed in the size of the check, that's when I would have said, "Yes, I have been in communication with Mr. Harrell." and then said nothing more. (I just don't get people who live to be in the paper or on TV in any kind of way.)

And yes, I'm sure the paper encouraged him to express himself in terms like "heartbroken".

NEWS FLASH!

Hubby just hands me the paper with a new story saying the cabby wants $40,000!!!!!! He gave that fee to Harrell's reps when they called to offer him a new check for $1,000. Harrell's people are calling it "retroactive ransom".

Yeah, this guy was heartbroken because there was no personal note!

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Thanks for the update, and the correction.

Too bad Harrell hadn't done all this at the beginning. Then there would have been no traction whatever for this kind of nonsense.

I do so love New York...

[This message has been edited by Stephen (edited 05-24-2001).]

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