By Amy Zimmer
DNAinfo News Editor
MANHATTAN — John James, the twin brother of the bow-tie wearing president of the National Arts Club, gave a $1,000 reward to a cabbie who returned a bag he left in the back seat after a ride from an office near Madison Square Park to his home at the landmark Tilden mansion, according to reports.
The taxi driver, Zubiru Jalloh, told the New York Times the bag contained $229 in cash, a book of checks with no return address, a box of assorted jewelry, artwork and photos of James posing with friends. Those friends happened to the actress Sylvia Sidney, writer Dominick Dunne and broadcaster Alistair Cooke.
James told the driver the contents were worth more than $100,000, according to the Times.
James cancelled his plans to take the Amtrak Acela that Sunday night to one of his family’s homes in Delaware. He and his friends reportedly reached out to the Taxi and Limousine Commission and other city officials and were able to track down the driver using the receipt that had Jalloh’s medallion number.
When the driver returned James’ bag, he was awarded with cash and an invitation to a club event, which Jalloh turned down.
James pleaded guilty in 2003 for selling jewelry using the club’s nonprofit tax status and went to a psychiatric hospital instead of jail after paying a $500,000 fine.
He pays $356 a month for his apartment inside the club’s highly coveted apartment building at Tilden Mansion, according to tax filings. Former employees have accused him, his brother, O. Aldon James, and their friend Steven Leitner, who oversees their trust fund, of hording jewelry, antiques, artwork and other bounty from their frequent flea market sprees in several of the roughly 40 apartments the club oversees, DNAinfo has reported.