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Mystery of the biggest emerald in the world

AN emerald-encrusted rock weighing 380 kilograms worth about US$400 million will remain in the custody of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in the United States while a judge decides who owns the boulder-sized gem.

Meanwhile, the man who first reported the world's largest emerald stolen said that he was giving up his claim because "I have been threatened."

Larry Biegler told Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge John Kronstadt that he was bowing out of the case.

Another claimant, Todd Armstrong, said that he moved the emerald to Las Vegas after a gem dealer gave it to him as collateral for a shipment of diamonds he paid for but never received.

He was trying to sell it when the authorities arrived.

The emerald was dug up in Brazil in 2001 and became known as the Bahia Emerald. Its first owner was a Brazilian gems trader. But after that, its route became muddled.

A lawyer for Anthony Thomas, another claimant, said that he'd bought it for US$60,000 but never received it.

Another claimant, Ken Conetto, said that he obtained it from the Brazilians and was to sell it for them. He said he enlisted Biegler to help.

Armstrong's lawyer said: "Someone said it was stolen and that was bogus."


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