“I got robbed the last night of the GJX show,” laments Arthur Anderson, a well-known award-winning gem carver from Fredericksburg, Va. “Things stolen out of my booth included boxes that contained parts of my large statue ‘Leigha,’ the fourth in a series of nine that I’ve been making, all based on an ancient Minoan figure from the island of Crete, circa 1700 BC .”They took the legs, skirt, arms and base,” Anderson explains. “This statue was the pinnacle of my gem art career, taking two full years to create. It contained over 1,200 separate pieces of gem material. The skirt itself was over 800 pieces of garnet, epidote, obsidian, black jade, and quartz. They didn’t get the torso, as I had that with me. Unfortunately, the parts they took [represent] about one-and-a-half years’ worth of work.”
Anderson had wrapped the pieces in individual boxes, taped them shut, and stowed them beneath his display cases. The thieves took some time, possibly close to an hour, in opening and going through the boxes. Anderson returned the next morning to find only empty cardboard boxes on top of the cases.
Detective Smith of the Tucson police department is in charge of the case. “It’s an ongoing investigation,” says Smith. “The robbery took place in an unsecured area during breakdown of the show. So far we have no suspects, as there were hundreds of people going in and out that we’re trying to track down. And many of these people are from out of town and still traveling.”
“They also took a lot of other personal things, including framed pictures of my statues, framed magazine covers, and a photo album of the process of making the statue,” says Anderson. “All in all, they took things that would facilitate someone trying to sell the statue. They took the core of my life’s work.”
Allan Norville, president of GJX, remembers that Anderson left some merchandise in his booth after the show closed at 4 p.m. Tuesday and returned the next day to pack up. “We’re upset that he didn’t avail himself of our security vault,” said Norville. “It’s very upsetting, especially happening after the show closed. We had a wonderful show, attendance was up, dealers were happy, the weather was great … and then this happens after the show closes.”
According to the GJX exhibitor information materials, 24-hour police security is provided both during and after show hours. “I assumed things were safe in my booth,” says Anderson. “I had taken my gemstones with me, along with part of the statue. The rest had been sealed in taped boxes and were under mounds of display stuff, so the only way it could be seen would be for someone to have the time to completely rifle my booth, which they did.”
Anderson is greatly disappointed that he was not able to aid in the investigation immediately, by examining the 24-hour surveillance videotape and trying to identify boxes that could have held the statue’s components. “The big statue and other pieces sold the smaller ones,” notes Anderson. “They were central to my display. I can’t replace them under any circumstances at this point in my life.”
Anderson put up flyers over Tucson, hoping someone would notice. “I have offered a $5,000 reward for return of the pieces,” says Anderson. “No questions asked. If anyone knows the whereabouts of these pieces they can contact the attorney in Tucson, Mr. John Brady, at (520) 623-4353, to discuss return of the pieces. The pieces are of no use without the torso. It’s my hope that whoever took them still has them, and they aren’t simply in a dumpster somewhere.”