'Cursed' Gem Could Be Worth $925M—or $100

Bahia Emerald has caused folks more trouble than it may be worth: 'Wired'
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 6, 2017 4:38 PM CST
Updated Mar 11, 2017 4:49 PM CST

(Newser) – A 752-pound gemstone that's sat for years in a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Office vault has been called "a puzzle from hell" by one of the detectives who brought it in as evidence in a 2008 case. Now Elizabeth Weil takes a crack at the head-scratcher for Wired, exploring the story behind the so-called Bahia emerald, which could be worth as much as $925 million (or as little as a C-note), looks like "a petrified Jello mold made by Wilma Flintstone for a dinosaur" (i.e., it's not attractive), and seems to be "cursed," based on the stories swirling around it. Those tales include a house that burned, a handful of lawsuits and bankruptcy filings, and a guy who says he was abducted—all lending an air of doom to a specimen that even brought ill fortune upon Weil, who says she "took a bad spin in the emerald's orbit" and spent hours investigating the story, only to initially "become more confused rather than less."

Weil's story dives into the emerald's origins in a Brazilian mine, how it made its way to the US, and the "shocking amount of bull----" that often follows giant gems, as well as the stories of those who claim the emerald has turned their lives upside down. The Brazilian mafia somehow filters into the narrative, as does a convoluted cast of characters, and it all came to a head when a man named Larry Biegler (described as a "plumber … with bad Yelp reviews") made a phone call to LA cops Mark Gayman and Scott Miller almost a decade ago. The strange case was "fun" at first, Miller tells Weil—but it has since morphed into something that he and Gayman wish would disappear forever. More on this scandalous stone at Wired. (A $12,000 "sapphire" ring turned out to be something else.)

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