An 850 pound emerald with an appraised value of $370 million is currently embroiled in a court battle to determine ownership. The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department is holding the Bahia Emerald, the second largest ever found, until a court can determine the lawful owner.
The emerald was discovered protruding from a black rock in Carnaiba, Brazil in July 2001. It took 8 men to move the 850 pound stone onto the nearest clear jungle trail for its 700 mile journey by a team of mules through the jungles. The journey took nearly 11 months. From San Paulo the gem was sent to the U.S. under armed guard for safekeeping.
Federal court papers indicate that the dispute involves a trio of people including a California man who claims to own the gemstone, a company he hired to sell it, and an interested buyer.
The Brazilian rarity was traced to a Las Vegas warehouse after it went missing in September from its South El Monte vault. A federal judge ordered the sheriff to hold the 180,000-carat emerald until he can rule in the bizarre case. According to L.A. Sheriff's Lt. Thomas Grubb, investigators believe someone used falsified papers to remove the stone from the owners secure location.
The company that was hired by the owner to sell the gem has a potential buyer who made an offer of $19 million. The owner has since been accused of trying to circumvent the selling company in order to sell directly to the potential buyer for $75 million. The stone was at one time listed on eBay in the 'buy it now' category for $75 million.
The case is now in the hands of the courts, who will determine the future fate of the Bahia Emerald.
Another photo below.