The Bahia Emerald is one of the largest emeralds (or rather, emerald crystals embedded in host rock) and contains the largest single shard ever found. The stone, weighing approximately 840lbs (381kg) (containing more than 180,000 carats) originated from Bahia State in Brazil. It narrowly escaped flooding during Hurricane Katrina in 2005 during a period of storage in a warehouse in New Orleans. It was subsequently reported stolen in September 2008 from a secured vault in South El Monte in Los Angeles County, California. The stone has been valued at some $400 million, but the true value is unclear. At one point, the emerald was listed for sale on eBay for a "Buy It Now" price of $75 million.
It originally was mined in the beryl mines of western Bahia State, Brazil, from which it takes its name. Bahia is an archaic form of Portuguese baía, meaning 'bay' after the bay first seen by European explorers in the 16th century.
After being moved from Brazil to the United States, various attempts were made to sell it without success. There were conflicting claims of ownership. Eventually the emerald was seized from a gem dealer in Las Vegas and taken into the custody of the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department. After a series of legal actions, Judge John A. Kronstadt of the Los Angeles County Superior Court announced in September 2010 that he would hear the case. Anthony Thomas, among the claimants, claimed to have original ownership of the gem. Other claimants include Jerry Ferrara, Kit Morrrison and Todd Armstrong of F&M Holding who have paid more than $1.3 million. A trial date was set for January 21, 2013, in the Los Angeles County Court. On January 29, 2014, Judge Kronstadt issued a ruling rejecting the claims of Anthony Thomas, leaving the determination of the remaining claimants for a future trial.
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- "850-pound emerald at center of dispute". CNN.com. December 27, 2008. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
- "Custody battle for giant emerald". MSN. September 24, 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2010.
- "Judge rejects businessman's claim to $372M emerald". MSN News. January 30, 2014. Retrieved January 30, 2014.