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Theft of diamond-encrusted eagle is a real mystery

May 31, 2016
maltese-eagle

“The stuff that dreams are made of”

The alleged theft, on Sunday, May 29th, in Ladner, B.C., of Ron Shore’s gold and diamond-encrusted eagle statue reads like something out of Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon—not the least because the details of the theft (in the best tradition of the detective genre) seem to change, depending on who’s doing the telling.

On Monday, May 30, CTV News said that the statue, which it referred to as The Maltese Eagle was worth $9 million.

Six million of this, CTV News explained, was the appraised value of the 12.72 carat “Atocha Star” emerald, taken from the from the 1622 Atocha shipwreck. The rest (we were left to imagine) was the value of the statue’s body, crafted (we were told) from 18 pounds (8.16 kilograms) of solid 14- and 18-karat gold by artist Kevin Peters and encrusted with exactly “736 diamonds weighing 56 carats”.

The same CTV News report stated that “Ron Shore was leaving a Christian concert at Pneuma Church at 57th Street in Ladner, B.C. around 10 p.m. Sunday when he was allegedly mugged by two men on the way to the car”.

The CTV report has Delta police saying that Shore was taken to hospital with “minor injuries” and since released.

According to the Georgia Straight’s report, also on Monday, the stolen sculpture was actually called The Golden Eagle and worth a substantially lower $5 million.

On Monday again, the AM730 website reported Delta police as saying that around 10 pm Sunday night, someone stole the statue from a home on 57th Ave. near Ladner Trunk Road.

By Tuesday, the Vancouver Sun and Province newspapers were reporting that Shore was saying that at the time of the theft of the solid gold statue—”estimated at 18 pounds”, covered by “over 700 diamonds” and now valued at $6 million—he was in Ladner, driving back from the Vancouver Convention Centre in the company of a “dedicated security person”—that he was outside the car; that only one person was involved in the robbery and that he (Shore) sustained “substantial” injuries.

Also on Tuesday morning, the Globe and Mail newspaper reported that the solid gold “Maltese Eagle” sculpture—”encrusted with 763 diamonds”(not the “736” reported by CTV News)  and worth $5 million dollars—was stolen from its owner during a “violent robbery,” Sunday night on a street in Ladner.

And according to the Wikipedia entry on The Golden Eagle:

“On May 30, 2016 Ron Shore, who was in possession of the statue, was mugged as he walked to his car after a concert. The perpetrator reportedly fled with Mr. Shore’s backpack which contained the statue inside”.

It’s understandable that there would be some discrepancies between news reports but it seems to me that the media has displaying altogether too much factual freedom in reporting this alleged theft.

Believe me, it’s for a good cause!

Ron Shore is the president of Telesave Communications Ltd., an Abbotsford, B.C.-based company involved in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). He says that he paid for the creation of the The Golden Eagle statue, largely out of his own pocket, in order to use it to raise money toward finding a cure for breast cancer; the disease which took the life of his sister-in-law Gabriele Helms in 2004, just two day after she had given birth to a daughter.

It’s fair to say that much of the value attributed to The Golden Eagle stature appears to come from Ron Shore’s own webpages. There is little truly independent corroboration to be found.

Back in August of 2010, when Shore’s glittering eagle was featured at Science World, it was described thusly:

“NEWS RELEASE: Treasure hunter and author Ron Shore brings $1.5 million Golden Eagle to TELUS World of Science”

This is the only claim of value that I can find from 2010 and it comes from the title of  a Science World PDF, referenced in the Wikipedia entry on The Golden Eagle but no longer extant apparently.

The majority of the statue’s value actually derives from the 12.72 carat Atocha Star emerald embedding in the body.

Shore’s Greatest Treasure Hunt site explains how the gem came from the 363-year old shipwreck Atocha shipwreck and how the salvager Mel Fisher originally gave the rough, 25-carats-plus, stone to his wife Deo and how the Fisher family ultimately donated it to Shore’s fundraising project.

According to Wikiwand.com, it was in 1992 when Deo Fisher had the emerald cut down to 12.72 carats, making it one of the largest and the only named cut emerald from the Atocha.

Wikiwand doesn’t list a value for the cut stone. It is Shore’s sites, such as Maltese Eagle (which includes an official appraisal at $4.8 million)  that value the gem somewhere between $3.2 and $5 million.

Two website articles not connected to Shore’s fundraising efforts, describe the emerald as being valued at about $250,000. One is 24 years old, from 1992, and focuses on the master gem cutter Meg Barry, while the other is undated and explains briefly how Berry transformed the 26-carat rough stone into a 12.72-carat glittering gem for Deo Fisher.

According to a 2013 CNN report, from 2009 to 2013, the price of high-quality emeralds increased by a factor of 10, so the Atocha Star emerald could now be worth just what Ron Shore claims. I’m just a bit skeptical when I can find no independent corroboration for such significant facts and I understand that normally so are journalists.

But this eagle sculpture is for a very good cause and no one is actually questioning if it’s a seriously valuable, one-of-a-kind objet dart. Even if it’s a quarter as precious as the lowest estimates, it’s worth a great deal of money.

What is questionable is the manner of the statue’s transportation and the opportunity this allegedly afforded for the simplest snatch-and-grab theft. I’ve seen paintings valued at much less shipped downtown from South Granville art galleries in armoured trucks driven by armed guards.

The notion that someone would cart around an 8.16 kilogram solid gold, multimillion dollar, jewel encrusted statue in their backpack, strains not only one’s back but also their credulity—it truly does. And the mass of wildly conflicting details surrounding the theft doesn’t help the overall believability of the story.

But exuberant promotion for a good cause is no vice and the only ones truly deserving of blame here are the thieves who would steal Ron Shore’s fundraising memorial to his sister-in-law.

A concern now has to be whether any thieves who have the statue are just looking just for the quickest buck possible. In that case, they might just flush the gems down the toilet and opt for an easy $100,000, by cutting up the body of the bird and selling it as scrap gold through any number of gold and currency exchanges.

Hopefully not. Hopefully Delta police are able to quickly recover the statue in one piece.

Anyone with  information about the whereabouts of the statue, or the crime, is advised to call the Delta police at 604-946-4411. Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 or solvecrime.ca. Click the image to enlarge it.

From → Art, Delta-Ladner

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