Huge Yellow Diamond Seized by Feds is Up for Auction
8/16/2011 6:36:34 AM Shira
A 43.5 carat yellow diamond nicknamed “Golden Eye”, government seized property from a sting, will be auctioned off in September in Cleveland, Ohio. The starting bid will be $900,000, with a refundable pre-bid deposit requirement of $180,000. The diamond is currently located in the Anthony J. Celebrezze Federal Building in Cleveland and viewing sessions, restricted to qualified buyers who have submitted a deposit, will be held prior to auction.
The diamond has a crystal texture and is a brilliant cut with 25 facets. It is an internally flawless diamond and possesses an intense yellow color. The Gemological Institute of America has authenticated the diamond. According to Bid4Assets, the online auction company that is conducting the sale, the stone’s origin and mine source cannot be determined, and there are no U.N. sanctions or Kimberley Process claims against the stone. Proceeds from the auction will go to victims of the 2006 crime and to law enforcement agencies involved in the case.
“The diamond is believed to be one of the world’s most perfect and flawless canary yellow diamonds,” says a statement from Bid4Assets.
The diamond is currently in the custody of U.S. marshals and was seized by the marshals in a 2006 money laundering sting involving several businessmen. The diamond belonged to Ohio millionaire and businessman Paul Monea, who was convicted of money laundering and conspiracy in 2007. Monea attempted to sell the gem to undercover FBI agents posing as brokers for a South American drug cartel.
Monea’s arrest resulted from an investigation by the FBI, the Internal Revenue Service, and other authorities into auto dealerships suspected of laundering drug dealer money. Monea, who was owner of a mansion that was once owned by former heavyweight boxing champion Mike Tyson, began using the diamond as collateral in business dealings in 2005. According to Federal agents, Monea has not revealed how he acquired the diamond.
Once bidding starts at $900,000, it will increase by $110,000 increments. According to Assistant U.S. Attorney Robert Bulford, the true value of the diamond is difficult to determine because of its uniqueness. It could be worth as much as $20 million, or as little as $3 million. During the sting operation in 2006, Monea had agreed to sell the yellow diamond and a mansion in exchange for $19.5 million and a boat.
"While we can't be sure, we are expecting national and international bids," said deputy U.S. marshal Ryan Helfrich. "What it is worth on the market is subjective. I've seen online articles saying it is worth between $15 million and $20 million, but it's real worth will be how much the highest bidder is willing to spend."