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Murph the Surf’s ‘Parole Board’ at Surfing Heritage to be featured on ‘Mysteries at the Museum’

Surfers Jack “Murph the Surf” Murphy and Dick Catri are shown here in January at Surf Expo in Florida with Murphy’s “Parole Board.” Photo: Sharon Marshall
Surfers Jack “Murph the Surf” Murphy and Dick Catri are shown here in January at Surf Expo in Florida with Murphy’s “Parole Board.” Photo: Sharon Marshall

By Andrea Swayne

The Surfing Heritage and Culture Center in San Clemente will be featured on the Friday, Dec. 12 episode of The Travel Channel show “Mysteries at the Museum” at 9 p.m.

One of the show’s three segments, “The Heist of the Century,” tells the story of Jack “Murph the Surf” Murphy, Alan Kuhn and Roger Clark pulling off one of the most notorious jewel heists in history. The three stole the Star of India, a 563.35-carat, nearly flawless star sapphire along with dozens of other jewels from the J.P. Morgan jewel collection on display at the American Museum of Natural History in New York. The de Long Ruby and the Eagle Diamond were among the precious gems stolen in the 1964 burglary.

The SHACC museum is now home to a surfboard, shaped by Phil Edwards, that was given to Murphy when he was released from prison after serving 21 months of a three-year sentence. The board is signed by Ronald Patterson, Sandy Banks, Danny Brawner and Flea who all had a hand in its production, said Barry Haun, curator at SHACC.

“We’re very excited to be part of the Travel Channel’s show and to have both our founder, Dick Metz and the surfboard that was given to Jack Murphy upon his release from prison, featured in the episode,” Haun said. “By no means do we condone any sort of criminal behavior, but we do acknowledge that this was part of both surfing and America’s history regarding the highest profile jewel theft caper to have taken place in the US.”

Murphy was convicted of murder and another jewel theft in 1968 and sentenced to life in prison but was paroled in 1986. He is now an ordained minister in prison ministry.

His story was the subject of the 1975 movie, Murph the Surf.

The surfboard and its history can be seen at SHACC, 110 Calle Iglesia in San Clemente. The museum is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and for groups, by appointment. For more information, call 949.388.0313 or log on to www.surfingheritage.org.

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