In the wee hours of April 21, violinist Philippe Quint did something very bad: While carrying his luggage across the street to his Manhattan apartment, he left his $4 million Stradivarius in the back of a taxi cab he'd taken from the airport in Newark, N.J.
"I turned to get the violin, but I only saw a cab driving in the distance," the Grammy-nominated musician recalled. "I almost fainted, but at the same time I instantly knew that I had to do something, so I composed myself very quickly and I started making a lot of a lot of phone calls."
Luckily, the taxi was a minivan, which allowed workers at the taxi commission to narrow the search to eight possible vehicles. The next day, they found the cabbie — Mohammed Khalil — who discovered the violin, untouched in the back of his van.
Upon returning it to Quint, he got an enthusiastic response.
"He hugged me, and he cry," recalls Khalil.
Quint also decided to reward the cabbies for their help with a private concert in a parking lot near Newark Airport.
Roughly 100 drivers attended the performance Tuesday, which also evolved into a farewell celebration for Khalil. As it turns out, the night he drove away was his last night in the business.
"[Quint] was my last customer," the new retiree says. "And this is it. It's a happy ending for me and a happy ending for him, too."