British Columbia

Golden eagle statue owner offers reward for its return

The owner of a solid gold, precious gem-encrusted eagle, is attempting to counter suspicions surrounding its alleged theft.

Owner Ron Shore says thieves also got away with silver decoy statue

Ron Shore holds an image of a solid gold eagle he says was stolen from him in Ladner, B.C., in May. (CBC)

In a mystery that wouldn't look out of place between the covers of an Elmore Leonard novel, the owner of a solid gold, precious gem-encrusted eagle is attempting to counter questions surrounding its alleged theft.

During a lively press conference Thursday, former naval officer and self-proclaimed treasure hunter Ron Shore was at one point asked to strip and prove the injuries he said he sustained when two men (one masked, the other possibly masked) allegedly assaulted him in Ladner, B.C., on May 29, and made off with the costly statue.

Despite accepting that so far, the investigation prompts more questions than answers, Delta Police Det. Sgt. Brad Cooper did intervene to protect Shore's propriety, confirming that police could verify the extensive bruising and other injuries sustained when Shore was reportedly dragged some 200 metres along the road while attempting to retrieve the roughly eight kilogram eagle from a black or dark blue SUV.

"I don't think any of us are ready to have Mr. Shore unrobe himself here to show the injuries," Cooper said.

A degree of incredulity has been expressed both by the press and on social media since Shore reported the theft of the pricey piece last month.

Ron Shore says the stolen solid gold eagle statue is worth $7M.

Discrepancies surrounding the value of the eagle, the number of attackers involved and where Shore's security guard was at the time of the attack have had observers scratching their heads.

Today, he told gathered reporters he was transporting the eagle that night in a nondescript backpack, on the advice of several international police forces, including the NYPD and the RCMP.

He said a masked man appeared in front of him and hit him hard on the top of his head saying, "Give me the bag."

Shore said he then made chase, caught up with his attacker, and found himself being dragged along the road. There was, he said, a lot of blood at the time, and he is left heavily bruised and with road burns on his legs that make walking uncomfortable.

He also said that the thieves — now confirmed as two in number — got away with a silver replica decoy bird, but declined to elaborate, except to say the decoy was not in the same backpack as the golden eagle, and was worth substantially less.

The value of the golden eagle was today confirmed at $7 million. Earlier reports were confused because different organizations were quoting different currencies, Det, Sgt. Cooper said.

Cooper also confirmed that the bird is insured, but refused to say for how much.

'My intentions are pure'

Shore stated several times that he was not involved in the theft, and had no interest in any insurance money which, he said, would not cover the cost of what he had sunk into the statue.

Offering a reward of $10,000 for information, Shore gave out his personal phone number, acknowledging he may find himself fielding crank calls.

He is taking the risk because he hopes any number of people may be able to help him either recreate the eagle, or help him put together a series of charity music concerts to raise money for breast cancer research. 

Shore said he had set on raising money for the charity after his sister-in-law and other members of his family died in quick succession. The eagle was part of his effort.

He made several pleas — to gold miners, diamond miners and music promoters. He also reached out to the thieves, asking them to return the eagle intact. His heart, he said, would be broken if it were melted down.

"My intentions are pure, my values are strong," he said, challenging those who don't believe him.

"If you believe in something enough that you are prepared to go into debt, to mortgage your house to make a difference in this world. If you've done that, then I give you permission to come chastise me.

"To say that I've put my heart, my soul and my passion into creating this one-of-a-kind eagle is really an understatement," he said.

'My life's work'

The golden eagle was part of an initiative called The World's Greatest Treasure Hunt: Quest for the Golden Eagle, devised by Shore in the hopes of raising $25 million.

Shore offered the eagle for sale in 2012 for $5 million. In a YouTube video, Shore says that $1 million from the sale would go to the cancer charity of the buyers choice, with the rest used to raise an additional $24 million for cancer research.

"It is my life's work and when it was taken from me, the potential of achieving my vision to raise money for breast cancer research was stolen from me."

On his website, the former naval officer and telecommunications executive also details his lengthy quest to take part in Donald Trump's The Apprentice series.

"I auditioned eleven times and spent almost $30,000.00," he writes.

"I traveled to Seattle, Tacoma, Anchorage, Los Angeles, Los Vegas [sic], Boise-Idaho, San Antonio-Texas, and Chicago."

He also relates how he had a poster, three feet by eight feet, of himself made, that he mailed to Mark Burnett Productions.

"They really liked it," he says.