Diamond encrusted golden eagle valued in the millions, stolen on Vancouver street

Source: The World's Greatest Treasure Hunt
PHOTO: The World's Greatest Treasure Hu
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Story highlights

One-of-a-kind Maltese eagle statue is made of 18 pounds of pure gold and it is covered in diamonds

Statue owner Ron Shore runs a Canadian nonprofit that aims to raise funds for breast cancer research

(CNN) —  

The Golden Eagle, a diamond encrusted statue made of gold, is the centerpiece of The World’s Greatest Treasure Hunt, a marketing scheme created by Hunt for the Cause Foundation President Ron Shore, aimed at raising funds for breast cancer research. Now it’s gone.

“Without the eagle, I don’t have anything,” Shore said Tuesday.

The Golden Eagle was to be used to raise money for cancer research, its owner says.
PHOTO: The World's Greatest Treasure Hu
The Golden Eagle was to be used to raise money for cancer research, its owner says.

The one-of-a-kind Maltese eagle statue is made of 18 pounds of pure gold, covered in 763 diamonds and contains a 12.7 carat emerald. It is valued around $6.8 million.

On Sunday, around 10 p.m. Shore says he was carrying the statue when he was robbed on the street in Ladner, part of the municipality of Delta in British Columbia, according to the Delta Police Department. “The victim suffered some injuries and was treated at hospital and released.”

Night street heist

“The eagle was in transport,” Shore said. “It was being transported to a secure location. During the transport, I was badly injured in trying to protect it from being stolen.”

Just hours before, the Golden Eagle had been on display at the Art! Vancouver four-day art fair.

“It was the most valuable piece in the show,” Art! Vancouver Director Lisa Wolfin said. “Usually he keeps it in the bank vault,” she said, speaking of Shore.

“After the event, since it was Sunday and the bank was not open, he didn’t return it to the bank and went somewhere else,” said Wolfin. She confirmed the statue was insured but did not know for what amount.

CNN affiliate CTV reported Shore was leaving a Christian concert at a local church when he was robbed by two men.

Jim Murphy, who was at the church that night, told CTV Shore was vocal about carrying something valuable, telling others he had “a piece of art in his backpack.”

“He was wearing a backpack when he was talking to me,” Murphy said.

“There was a designated security person with me at all times,” Shore said. He said because of the ongoing police investigation, he couldn’t provide more details of the incident.

The Golden Eagle, however, was part of something much bigger.

The World’s Greatest Treasure Hunt

In 2002, Shore’s sister-in-law had to decide between her life and the life of her unborn child after she was diagnosed with breast cancer.

“She was given the choice of getting chemo and saving her own life or saving the life of her child,” Shore said. After his sister-in-law passed away, Shore had his own near-death experience after a drunken driver slammed against his car at 100 mph.

“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,” he said.

Shore owns a telecommunications company and, according to his website, has traveled to over 44 countries. He has auditioned 11 times for Donald Trump’s “The Apprentice.”

It was at this time of introspection that Shore turned to his MBA thesis: “How to Create the World’s Greatest Treasure Hunt.” He also created Hunt for the Cause, a nonprofit organization to raise funds for breast cancer research.

The thesis scheme involved writing a series of “treasure hunt” books prompting readers to crack hidden codes and solve complex riddles. His website advertises a grand prize of $1 million “hidden somewhere in the world,” which can only be found using the clues in the books.

“In writing the book, the theme of the book was a quest for something and because I really appreciate the bald eagle, I chose the eagle as the theme for the book,” Shore said. “If you are going to have a theme you need to have an object.”

Shore then set out to design and create the Golden Eagle.

“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.

To raise more funds, Shore decided it was time to sell the eagle.

Golden Eagle for sale

Before the Golden Eagle was stolen, it was for sale.

Shore attempted to sell the statue at the Art! Vancouver show. “There were a few people who were interested in buying it,” he said.

Once sold, the Golden Eagle would fund Shore’s next project: a series of music concerts to benefit breast cancer research.

“We wanted to have the world’s best artists to play. People like Paul McCartney, Lady Gaga, Adele, Taylor Swift, Elton John,” Shore said. “I’m really hoping that the music industry can come together regardless of whether I can get the eagle back. That is my whole dream.”

Police investigation

Police are treating the incident as a robbery, Delta Police spokeswoman Sarah Swallow said. They are canvasing the neighborhood for surveillance or CCTV video and looking at witness statements.

“It is a very unique piece with significant media coverage. It would get harder to get rid of. But there are underground networks were this could be done,” Swallow said.

Shore is hopeful the Golden Eagle will be returned. “I don’t care how I get it back as long as I get it back,” he said. “The whole thing was to sell the Eagle and raise money for breast cancer research. Without the eagle I don’t have anything.”