On Friday a small army of lawyers showed up in front of a judge to decide a custody battle unlike any other. The 180,000 carat Bahia Emerald is a massive uncut emerald that tips the scales at 840lbs (the same weight as a small horse) and it has been valued at around £250,000,000 (that’s right – two hundred and fifty million pounds). Several people have claimed ownership of the huge gem since it was found in 2001 and was registered with the Brazilian Government by owner Renata Joias e Embalagens Ltd, and on Friday they met the judge who will decide it’s final fate.
On August 31st 2004, an Assignment & Bill of Sale was made from Renata Joias e Embalagens Ltd. to Gemworks Mining Inc. On August 22nd 2007, there was an assignment of the Bahia Emerald from Gemworks Mining Inc. to B&B Services Inc. Market Link Inc. and FM Holdings Inc. obtained valid legal title to the Bahia Emerald in 2008. Sounds pretty cut and dry, yeah? Except another claimant, Tony Thomas, is arguing that he purchased the emerald first from a Brazilian gem dealer for $60,000 (£38,000) shortly after it was excavated. He claims that, after he arranged to have it shipped home, he was tricked into believing the rock had been stolen so it could be sold to someone else for more money. His case is being considered by the judge but the other interested parties have argued it should be dismissed because the emerald was never delivered to him (and nothing to do with jealousy over what must be the bargain of the century if his claim is true).
The precious stone was allegedly stolen in September 2008 and has been on a rather mysterious journey ever since, showing up every now and then to tease its would be owners. At one point it was even listed on eBay for a bargain Buy It Now price of £47 million. In December that year it was found and seized from a gem dealer (who was contracted by one company to sell it to another and also has an ongoing ownership claim himself) in Las Vegas, and is now in the custody of the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Rumour has it they’re preparing for an Assault On Precinct 13 situation when people find out what they’ve got stashed away.