LA Hosts Fight Over $372M Emerald

Who owns one of the world's largest emerald worth $372 million? Five people say they do.

A Los Angeles Superior Court is scheduled Tuesday to hear competing claims of ownership to an 840-lb emerald that was mined in 2001 in the eastern Brazilian state of Bahia and wound up in Los Angeles, according to the Wall Street Journal.

The rock was recovered last December by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in a Las Vegas warehouse after one of the people who claim ownership, Larry Biegler, said it had been stolen from a warehouse in South El Monte.

Investigators traced it to two Idaho men, Todd Armstrong and Kit Morrison, who said in court papers that Biegler owed them the stone as collateral for $1 million worth of diamonds he never delivered.

Biegler says he delivered the diamonds and claims the Idaho men agreed to buy the emerald for $80 million.

Biegler's former business partner, Ken Conetto of San Jose, is also laying claim to the rock. He said in court papers he brought in Biegler to help sell the emerald.

Biegler said he took the gem as collateral on a loan that Conetto defaulted on, but Conetto said he never actually borrowed the money and the emerald is still his.

Meanwhile, a fifth claimant, gem trader Anthony Thomas, says he's the rightful owner because he originally bought the emerald for $60,000 from the Brazilian mine in 2001.

The sheriff's department is keeping the rock in a vault until the ownership dispute

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