The so-called “world’s largest emerald” has turned out to lay an equally large egg.
The 57,500 ct. watermelon-size green rock, whose authenticity was increasingly coming under question, failed to attract any bids at its scheduled Jan. 28 auction by Kelowna, Canada–based Western Star Auctions.
The auction house’s hopes for a million-dollar payday were dealt a serious blow on Jan. 30, when word came that Regan Reaney, the dealer who put the stone up for auction, had been arrested on fraud charges.
Reaney “is accused of multiple fraud offenses and has outstanding warrants for his arrest out of Hamilton, Ontario,” according to a release from the Kelowna Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
The release indicated the charges were not related to the emerald, stating there are no investigations regarding Reaney in Kelowna.
Meanwhile, Western Star owner Mike Odenbach didn’t know if the auction house would put the stone up for sale again.
“That’s really not my decision to make,” he says. “There is still a pile of interest in it.”
Controversy has swirled around the stone since shortly after the auction was announced.
On Jan. 26, the gemologist who examined the stone told JCK that he couldn’t vouch that the stone was all emerald. And noting the presence of dyes, Shane McClure, director of GIA’s West Coast Identification Service, said “we would probably not call it emerald no matter what.”
A local news site, PeachlandNews.com, discovered that the stone had previously been up for sale on eBay with a $10,000 price tag. The listing can be seen here. A site designed to sell the emerald at press time has been taken down.
Jeff Nechka, the Calgary-based gemologist who appraised the stone, says it failed to sell for a variety of reasons.
“Perhaps people were hoping the media hype would die down,” he says. “Some people may have become skittish with the latest news over the owner of the stone. It could be there is no demand for something so big.”
He notes that he has no connection with the stone’s owner, and still stands by his $1.15 million valuation, adding that the high price tag is appropriate given the rock’s enormous size.