Emerald on Display in HK Sparks Ownership Dispute
Source: China Daily/ HK Edition
A dispute over who has the right to the world's largest and heaviest emerald on matrix being exhibited in Hong Kong is raised after the government of Madagascar, which is the country of origin of the stone, claimed that the extraction and transaction of the stone were illegal, and demanded it be sent back to the country.
The stone, named Gift from Heaven, has been on display at the BaoQu Tang Modern Art Gallery at the InterContinental Hotel since June 20. It was extracted last July from an open cast mine in Madagascar, according to the gallery's website.
The gemstone, which weighs 536 kg and measures 125cm in length, 78 cm in height and 55cm in width, remained intact after the extraction. It was considered rare as the stone usually gets damaged during the process because of the dynamites used.
The government of Madagascar issued a press release yesterday, saying the buyer Chan Sicpo is not permitted to sell or export the stone as it belongs to the Malagasy State and is considered as a Malagasy national patrimony.
"The above mentioned stone has been extracted from Madagascar with an exploitation license authorized only for beryl and not for the emerald," the release said. "In fact, both of them (the bearer of the license and Chan) have made a criminal offence on the basis of false statements as a green beryl and not declared as an emerald to obtain the authorization from the Mining and the Custom Clearance Departments to export the stone out of Madagascar."
"The government of Madagascar claims for his property and makes an opposition for sale of the subject emerald by Chan Sicpo and others," it said.
Madagascar's head of Interpol Rakotoarimanana Luc, who has arrived in Hong Kong to deal with the issue with three other officials, said they have requested the assistance of Hong Kong's Department of Justice and police.
However, a spokesman for gallery said Chan, a painter, is not related to the incident and the stone is owned by a French company Orgaco.
In an e-mail reply to China Daily, the gallery said Orgaco did not make any false representation on the nature of the gemstone, saying emerald is a member of the beryl family.
"Beryl is the substance, emerald is the color of the substance," it said.
The gallery said a court in La Reunion, a French island situated east of Madagascar, ruled in June that the stone belonged to Orgaco and it has been legally exported.
The reply said the gallery is seeking legal advice and will make an announcement soon.
A spokesman for Hong Kong police said they will not comment on the case.
( By Teddy Ng)
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