5 claim they own emerald worth $372M

LOS ANGELES The stone was mined in 2001 in the eastern Brazilian state of Bahia. It has been valued at $372 million, and is said to be the world's largest emerald.

The emerald ended up in Los Angeles after the /*L.A. County Sheriff's Department*/ recovered it in a Las Vegas warehouse. At that time, a man named Larry Biegler had reported it stolen from a warehouse in South El Monte.

The story got even more complicated after investigators traced the emerald back to two men, Todd Armstrong and Kit Morrison. They claimed in court papers that Biegler owed them the stone as collateral for $1 million worth of diamonds they were supposed to get from him. Biegler says he delivered the diamonds and argues that Armstrong and Morrison agreed to buy the stone for $80 million.

Another claimant is Biegler's former business partner. Ken Conetto of San Jose claimed in court papers that Biegler was only supposed to help him sell the emerald. Biegler refutes that, saying he took the gem as collateral on a loan that Conetto didn't pay. Conetto says he never borrowed the money.

Meanwhile, a fifth and final claimant, gem trader Anthony Thomas, says he originally bought the emerald for $60,000 from the Brazilian mine in 2001.

The precious stone is being kept in a vault by the sheriff's department until the ownership dispute is sorted out.


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