Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Golden Eye Goes On The Auction Block

The Golden Eye, believed to be one of the largest internally flawless diamonds in existence, will go on the auction block in early September. Evaluated by the GIA as a 43.51 carat, rectangular, natural, brilliant cut, intense yellow diamond, it was seized in 2006 during a federal drug and money laundering investigation in northeast Ohio. The auction opens with a minimum starting bid of $900,000 after which bids must increase by increments of $110,000. You can't even see or bid on the stone without first placing a deposit of $180,000 (refundable, thank you), which will be on display in Cleveland from August 29 - September 2.

Paul Monea
The origin of the diamond is unclear, but it is believed to be from southern Africa, known for producing intense yellow diamonds similar to the Golden Eye. But as with all outstanding gems, the more interesting history is the back story. This one links the stone to businessman, Paul Monea, famous for making millions with Billy Blank's Tae-Bo infomercials in the 90's (come on, you know you had one), and who was convicted in 2007 for money laundering and conspiracy. Monea, who many believe to be a professional schemer, came from humble roots and hit success early on with the idea of restaurant coupons, then went on to squander almost every cent he ever made by buying, among other things, fancy cars, an estate once owned by boxer Mike Tyson, and the Golden Eye diamond.  Authorities said Monea was caught in a sting when he tried to sell the Golden Eye, along with Tyson's tiger filled house, to an undercover FBI agent posing as a broker for a drug cartel, for 19.5 million dollars and a boat. Sitting at a conference table with his laywer, an associate, and the undercover agent who was working the sale, Monea was this close to romping with the unicorns in fields of happiness as this deal was about to go down. Everyone was waiting for a gemologist to authenticate the diamond before the money was to be wired. "It's real," the gemologist says, and the OK is given to send the money. This is when FBI agents rushed into the room and Monea quickly realized he was about to be lowered into a landfill of shit. What a boob.

Monea was a complicated man who spent a lot of time thinking up schemes in order to get over other people. In the end, he was caught in his own complex web of intrigue. Whereas, if he was a woman, she would have just handed it over to Sotheby's...that's the difference between a man and a woman. Monea made and spent millions of dollars, and now at 64, sits in prision not to be released until sometime in 2018, and...he lost the diamond. 

Sale projections of the stone are anywhere from 3 million to 20 million dollars, but the true value will be determined when the gavel drops. Buyers are anticipated to be mostly international, given the growing realization that they are the only people with the kind of disposable income required to purchase this type of stone. Americans are just too poor now, even the rich ones. 20% of the sale price will be going to the US Marshals Service, with the remaining money going to some of Monea's swindled victims and to the federal and local agencies that helped with the Monea case.



Jessie said...

Why is the auction being held in Cleveland?

Why did it take so long for this diamond to go up for auction after Monea was convicted?

Who owned the diamond before Monea did? Does it have a storied past, or was it a diamond that came on the scene relatively recently?

Gem Jewel said...

The stone was seized by authorities in Ohio and has been held by the U.S. Marshal's Service there since 2006. In 2007, Monea was found guilty of four counts of money laundering and sentenced to 13 years in prison. Over the following two years, 6 individuals came forward claiming to own the diamond. Two were Monea's children and others were people who had been duped by Monea. However, in 2009, a Ohio judge ruled the government could keep and auction the diamond. It has taken until now to arrange for the sale of the stone. Little is known about where the diamond came from prior to Monea's ownership. Rumor has it Monea kept the diamond in his pants pocket and often used it as collateral in his business dealings.