The instrument is nicknamed the "Viola Medicea" and the "Viola del Crocifisso" because its back is decorated with a crucifix and the Medici family symbol.
The 1595 viola was stolen on October 7, 1980, after violist Albert Bianchi left the instrument in his car, parked in front of La Scala, after a concert. It was recovered in Rosate, a Milan suburb. Three suspects, a 39-year-man from Lodi, a 73-year-old from Pavia, and a 69-year-old from Rosate, have been charged with the theft.
Police from Pavia, Lodi, and Milan collaborated to find the instrument.