California man charged with theft of $800,000 Gold Rush jewelry box

A California man was charged on Friday with stealing a historic jewelry box linked to the state's historic gold rush.

Andre Taray Franklin was indicted by a federal grand jury in Oakland with theft of major artwork and unlawful concealment and disposition of stolen major artwork. Brian C. Lewis, Assistant U.S. Attorney, is prosecuting the case.

The 45-year-old Franklin used an axe to smash display case and steal a gold jewelry box, which dated back to between 1869 and 1878. The theft occurred Jan. 7, 2013. Franklin spent the next month trying to dispose of the box. Surveillance tape and physical evidence at the crime scene led authorities to Franklin. He also had a blurry picture of the jewelry box and incriminating text messages on his phone.

The box, which was being displayed at the Oakland Museum of California, is valued at least $100,000.

Franklin is currently being held in Santa Rita Jail on a parole violation.

The maximum fine is 10 years in prison and a fine of $250,000, plus restitution.

In a press release while looking for the item, the museum gave the following description of the piece:

The historic jewelry box, was made between 1869 and 1878 by A. Andrews, a San Francisco goldsmith, and is signed. The artifact features a rectangular moulded top and base that rests on four feet formed of four miniature female figures depicting allegorical California. It is seven inches in height; nine inches on length; and seven inches in depth. The top pilasters and mouldings are of veined gold quartz in tones of grey and cream with veining of gold. The interior of the top is recessed and engraved in full relief with scene of the early days of the Union and Central Pacific Railroads, mounted Native Americans, herds of buffalo, and a train of cars. The gold quartz is cut and set in mosaic fashion in the top of the lid, exterior and the sides are gold veined quartz.