Who owns giant emerald?Reprints
A Los Angeles judge is trying to officially determine who owns a 180,000-carat, 840-pound emerald in a case that has all the trappings of an Indiana Jones movie.
According to news reports, the popular rock known as the Bahia Emerald was mined in Brazil in 2001 and was first sold for $5,000. It was sold thereafter for $20,000. At one time it was reportedly valued as high as $372 million after it was delivered via Brink's truck and stored in an East Los Angeles vault insured by Lloyd's of London.
But its lineage is murky, with reports that it has been in and out of the hands of assorted rock hunters and investors, even allegedly having spent several weeks submerged near New Orleans' French Quarter after Hurricane Katrina.
After an investor reported it missing in 2009, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department tracked it to Las Vegas, where they confiscated it, according the Los Angeles Times. The gem has been stored as evidence in Los Angeles while the ownership dispute has simmered — with as many as eight players staking claims.
Even Brazil got into the act last September, claiming the gem should be returned to its country of origin because it had been illegally mined and exported, the Times said. But Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael Johnson said Brazil lacked sufficient evidence to warrant halting the case, and he has allowed it to proceed.
However the case plays out, the verdict will be priceless.