Fate of $400 Million Emerald Goes to Trial

Friday, August 20, 2010
The Bahia Emerald

For the sixth time, a court case will attempt to decide once and for all the owner of the world’s largest rough emerald. The 840-pound, 180,000-carat green gemstone has been the source of much trouble for individuals from the U.S. and Brazil, where the emerald was originally discovered. Battling for ownership are Ken Conetto and Anthony Thomas of California, two men whose friendship has been ruined over their fight to claim the stone which is valued at at least $400 million. Over the last nine years the emerald has moved from São Paulo to San Jose to New Orleans to Las Vegas, been stolen at least once and changed hands several times and was once put on eBay for $75 million.


The Bahia Emerald, as it is known, was discovered in 2001 by miners Ruy Saraiva Filho and Elson Alves Ribereiro, who agreed to share the proceeds from its sale with Conetto. Thomas traveled to Brazil to see the emerald, which by this time was being kept in a private home in São Paulo. At this point, the emerald’s story turns fuzzy. Thomas claims that he bought the stone for $60,000, but Conetto denies that this happened. The emerald was shipped to San Jose in 2005. It was later moved to the Los Angeles suburb of El Monte and then to Las Vegas, where it was seized by members of the Los Angeles Sherriff’s Office until legal ownership could be determined.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge John Kronstadt has set a September 8 date for the latest civil trial.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
Fate of 840-Pound Emerald Headed for Trial (by Chie Akiba, Courthouse News Service)
A San Jose Man's Quest to Regain the World's Largest Emerald (by Bruce Newman, San Jose Mercury News)


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