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Courts to Determine Ownership of 14-Pound Pearl, 840-Pound Emerald

Posted Nov 10, 2010 10:33 AM CDT
By Debra Cassens Weiss

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Large gemstones are at the center of two separate court fights over ownership rights.

California emerald collector Anthony Thomas maintains he paid Brazilian miners $60,000 for the huge emerald in 2001, but instead of shipping it to him they resold it for more money, the Associated Press reports. As proof, he offers a photo of himself with his arm around the emerald. His bill of sale was lost, he says, when his home burned down in 2006. A group of businessmen say they bought the emerald for $1.3 million.

Today the emerald is valued at $400 million to $900 million. A Los Angeles judge hearing the case without a jury will determine ownership.

Meanwhile, a judge in Denver has agreed to revive a legal battle over proceeds from the sale of the 14-pound Pearl of Allah, thought to be the world’s largest pearl, the Associated Press reports. The pearl is locked in a Colorado Springs bank vault.

The estate of a man who had part ownership of the pearl was ordered to pay $32.4 million in a wrongful death suit in 2005, according to a 2007 story on the pearl by the Colorado Springs Gazette. The man was accused of hiring a hit man to kill his wife. The pearl is more than 2,500 years old and was valued at nearly $60 million, according to the 2007 story.

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