On Sunday, an 18-pound, solid-gold eagle statue studded with diamonds and an emerald salvaged from a Spanish treasure ship was allegedly stolen from owner Ron Shore on the street in British Columbia, CBC reports.
The statue, called The Golden Eagle, was created by the telecommunications company president to serve as the centerpiece of The World’s Greatest Treasure Hunt, a planned book series and marketing event intended to raise money for breast cancer research after his sister-in-law’s death from the disease. From CNN:
“I mortgaged my house and used my savings to buy the gold and diamonds,” said Shore. “And then to have an old world treasure I approached the Fisher family from Key West, with the Atocha shipwreck, and I asked them if they had an emerald from the shipwreck that I could use.” He bought one of the Atocha emeralds on a bid.
But despite the flashy diamond-covered Golden Eagle theme, book sales flopped. Since 2010, Hunt for the Cause has netted around $15,000 from book sales, according to Shore. That’s a fraction of the $100 million he set out to raise.
“Sales of the book have not been as good as we would have liked,” Shore acknowledged.
Hoping to raise funds to bankroll an annual charity concert, Shore put the statue up for sale at a price of $5 million in 2012, a substantial discount from its estimated $6.8 million value. It has failed to find buyer.
As he was transferring The Golden Eagle from a recent exhibition back to its undisclosed vault, Shore says he was robbed of the statue, becoming “badly injured” in the process. Shore declined to provide further details of the incident, citing the ongoing police investigation.
According to one witness, Shore “wasn’t shy” about the fact he was carrying something valuable before the robbery.
Shore would not say if the eagle was insured.
“Unfortunately what will probably happen is that all of the jewels will be pulled out of the head because it had basically a cape of diamonds,” sculptor Kevin Peters, who spent nearly four years creating the statue, told a Canadian radio station. “And it has three types of gold and will be probably melted down.”
The largest of those jewels is the Atocha Star, a 12-carat emerald that was recovered in 1985 from the Nuestra Señora de Atocha, a Spanish treasure galleon that sank in 1622. The Atocha Star is itself estimated to be worth at least $3 million.
Shore says he was inspired to start the charity treasure hunt after his sister-in-law died from breast cancer while pregnant and he was nearly killed by a drunk driver.
“She was given the choice of getting chemo and saving her own life or saving the life of her child,” Shore told CNN. “As I was lying in the hospital bed I was thinking, what had my life really stood for? I though the bulk of my life had been selfish and I had not given back to the community enough.”