An 18-pound, solid-gold eagle statue adorned with 763 diamonds and a massive emerald recovered from a 17th-century shipwreck has been stolen—but it wasn't exactly a Mission: Impossible-esque heist. Owner Ron Shore says he had his "Maltese Eagle," valued between $5 million and $9 million, in his backpack on Sunday when he was robbed after attending a church concert in Vancouver, reports CTV. He had apparently just picked it up from an art gallery where it was on display, and one person at the church concert tells CTV that Shore was happily talking about having it on him. After the concert, witnesses say they saw two men beat Shore on the street before grabbing his backpack, reports the National Post. "I struggled as hard as I could and yet wasn't able to prevent the robbery," Shore tells CBC News. He was treated at a hospital and released.
Police are saying little about the incident other than they are trying to "establish exactly what happened" and get descriptions of the assailants. Shore says he mortgaged his house to commission the statue years ago after his sister-in-law died of breast cancer. "I thought the bulk of my life had been selfish and I had not given back to the community enough," he tells CNN. He wrote a book with clues to a real-life treasure hunt—the eagle was one reward—and says he hoped to raise $100 million for breast cancer charities, but book sales were poor. Recently, he had hoped to sell the statue and use the proceeds to fund a charity concert. But "without the eagle, I don't have anything," he says. It's not clear whether the piece is insured. "I'd hate to think it’d be melted down," says sculptor Kevin Peters, who worked on the eagle several years ago. "That's my fear." (There's $10 million in gold and silver hidden in Utah.)