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London-based insurance company AXA were offering a $150,000 reward for the safe return of the sculptures which include portraits of Sir Isaac Newton, Sir Humphrey Morice, and Sir Christopher Wren.

In cloak-and-dagger circumstances the $1.5m ivories, loaned to the museum by publishing magnate Lord Thomson of Fleet, were returned one day after police released enhanced surveillance video photos of three “persons of interest” who had been in the gallery at the time the sculptures were taken from a locked display case. They were retrieved by a Toronto lawyer, who (tied by the solicitor-client privilege) arranged a rendezvous with an anonymous caller at a suburban shopping mall.

Police said no money was paid out to get the ivories back although a $10,000 reward is still being offered for information leading to the identification of those involved.

ALSO: A man has been charged with forgery and theft by deception in connection with the passing of fake cheques at one of America’s largest antiques shows.

As reported in Antiques Trade Gazette No 1613, November 8, a man posing as a Kentucky-based collector of toys and antiques dropped as much as $100,000 in worthless cheques on unsuspecting exhibitors at the October 18-19 Atlantique City antiques fair in New Jersey.

Raymond McCullough of Gadsden, Alabama is being held without bail in Las Vegas and faces outstanding warrants in several other states. The suspect was physically restrained by a Pennsylvania dealer at the January 15-17 Las Vegas Antique Arms Show. Ron Van Anda said he instantly recognised McCullough as being the same man who bought a mechanical bank from him at Atlantique City, paying with a $2500 cheque drawn on a non-existent credit union account. Subsequent inspection of the cheques suggested they were printed from a computer on watermarked paper.