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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review

Valuable Stolen Dagger Found After Phone Tip

March 29, 2000

HOLLYWOOD — A 19th century dagger once owned by a Russian czar, which had been stolen from an art exhibition aboard the Queen Mary, was found stashed near a pay phone early Tuesday after an anonymous tip.

The thief apparently ditched the dagger and its sheath, valued at $50,000, when it became clear that the high-profile item could not be sold, said police Sgt. Bob Brophy.

"They couldn't do anything with it, so they just left it some place where it could be located," Brophy said.

The 11-inch dagger, featuring a curved blade and gold hilt set with emeralds and turquoise, and its gold-plated and jeweled sheath were on display aboard the Queen Mary, docked in Long Beach as a tourist attraction and hotel.

The exhibit, on loan from the Russian Museum of Ethnography in St. Petersburg, consists of presents given to the last czars of Russia. Alexander III received the dagger in 1883 as a gift from the emir of Bukhara, an area northeast of Iran and Iraq that now is Uzbekistan.

A security guard noticed the dagger was missing Sunday afternoon, said Lovetta Kramer, Queen Mary marketing vice president.

The theft and pictures of the dagger were publicized Monday.

About 3 a.m. Tuesday an anonymous caller to KCBS-TV told a reporter where to find the dagger, Brophy said. The television station immediately called police.

The dagger was in a large envelope marked "handle with care" and left by a public telephone at Hollywood Boulevard and Gower Street. The dagger did not appear to be damaged.

The exhibit, "Treasures of the Last Russian Emperor," is on display through April 22.

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