Update: Due to concerns over security, the gold and silver eagles which were scheduled to remain on display at the Fort Langley Studio for the next several weeks have been removed to a secure location. Anyone who would like to view any of the three sculptures mentioned in the story below is invited to do so by appointment, by calling Ron Shore at 604-857-2488 or the Fort Langley Studio at 604-371-2899.
They can also be viewed online at themalteseeagle.com.
Additionally, anyone who helps Shore find a buyer for the Maltese Eagle is eligible for a $500,000 commission.
Pure gold to its core and covered in diamonds, the Maltese Eagle may be worth millions of dollars. But what the artwork represents to its owner is perhaps more valuable than cash.
If Fraser Valley businessman Ron Shore has his way, the sculpture will play a pivotal role in the hunt for a cure for breast cancer.
On Saturday, the Maltese Eagle — an 18 pound, solid gold, jewel-encrusted sculpture of an eagle perched, with its wings slightly spread — landed at an art gallery in Fort Langley.
It was placed on display for the evening on Saturday, Aug. 23 at the Fort Langley Studio, where owners Curtis Zondag and Laura Murphy will continue to exhibit two similar sculptures of the majestic raptor — both also cast in precious metals — for the next few weeks.
And, with luck, find buyers for all three of the statues.
“Waiting to Soar” is a solid silver eagle, with sapphires eyes. It stands approximately 23 cm tall and weighs 5,236 grams. It is for sale at a price of $35,880, while “Phoenix” is cast in bronze and plated with 24K gold and nickel. Its breast and eyes are fitted with cubic zirconia. It can be purchased for $24,880
But there is far more to all of these birds than meets the eye.
The sculptures are all connected to “The World’s Greatest Treasure Hunt: Quest for the Golden Eagle” an adventure book conceived and written by Shore.
Inside its pages lie a series of puzzles and clues that will eventually lead a savvy reader to a $1 million grand prize, hidden somewhere in the world.
For those who need a little help deciphering Shore’s hidden messages, the author has also put together a code-breaking primer.
One hundred per cent of net proceeds from book sales are earmarked for breast cancer research through Shore’s Hunt for the Cause Foundation.
When the treasure hunt was first conceived, The Maltese Eagle, created by B.C. artist Kevin Peters was intended to be the top prize. Once it was appraised and found to be worth several million dollars, however, the plan was revised.
Instead, readers are challenged to read the book and solve the clues hidden in each of its 12 chapters to discover the locations of one of a dozen solid silver eagles valued at $20,000 each.
Solving all the clues in the book will yield the $1 million grand prize.
Shore, a graduate of Trinity Western University, is a Fraser Valley businessman who was moved to raise money for breast cancer research following the death of his sister-in-law, who passed away two days after giving birth to a daughter.
It was sometime in late winter or early spring of this year that he strolled into the Fort Langley Studio and struck up a conversation with Zondag and Murphy.
He shared his story and together, they arranged to place the two smaller sculptures on display in the couple’s gallery for several weeks this summer, with the eagles’ unveiling to the community scheduled for last Saturday.
Two days before the event, the couple learned that when Shore came to speak about his project he would be bringing the Maltese Eagle along with him.
The largest known solid gold statue of its kind, the eagle features 763 diamonds at a total of 56 carats. Mounted between its talons is the Atocha Star Emerald, which was recovered from the 1622 wreck of a Spanish galleon.
“It looked amazing,” said Murphy.
Appraised at around $6 million, it is for sale through The Fort Langley Studio at $5 million. According to Shore’s website, upon the statue’s purchase, $1 million will be donated to the breast cancer-related charity of the buyer’s choosing.
To learn more about Shore’s story and the treasure hunt, visit themalteseeagle.com.
First student exhibit scholarship goes to LFAS grad
Saturday’s opening at the Fort Langley Studio also marked the debut of works by several local artists, including Lori McPhee, Lisa Wolfin, Nadie Gelata, Marc Baur, Julia Nowakowski, and Susan Galick.
Also on display at the studio for the next three weeks will be work by Langley Fine Arts School graduate Julia Nowakowski, (pictured) who, accoring to gallery owners Curtis Zondag and Laura Murphy, is bound for the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA) in Baltimore, this fall.
The couple discovered the multi-media artist when they dropped the school’s year-end art show to scope out new talent.
Her work impressed the gallery owners so greatly, that they offered her a show.
From charcoal to oil, acrylics, paper and photography, Nowakowski’s materials include “everything she can get her hands on, really,” said Murphy.
The student artist, who sold three pieces on opening night, is the first to receive a $150 endowment from the gallery, which is awarded as display space.
“We really want people to be able to have their first show in a real gallery.”
The fact her opening took place on the same night as The Maltese Eagle was unveiled worked out well, added Zondag.
Zondag and Murphy celebrated the one-year anniversary of their gallery on June 29.
Just over a year ago, they opened their business with the idea that original art should be for everyone — not just a particular segment of society.
“We began that way, and we’ve kept that,” said Murphy.
The Fort Langley Studio is open each Tuesday to Thursday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.; Fridays from noon to 6 p.m. Weekends from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.