KELOWNA, B.C. — Despite a week of hoopla, an 11.5- kilogram emerald went unsold without a single bid at auction in Kelowna, B.C. on Saturday after its co-owner was put behind bars.
Regan Reaney was arrested on unrelated charges Friday, a day before the gem he said was the world’s largest cut emerald was to go on the auction block.
The big rock was valued at more than $1 million and given the nickname Teodora, or Gift of God. Reaney was arrested by Kelowna RCMP on outstanding warrants out of Hamilton, Ont.
Const. Kris Clark said the man is accused of multiple fraud offences.
“The Kelowna RCMP became aware of his warrants through interaction with Reaney and made the arrest once Ontario agreed to return him to their jurisdiction. Reaney is known to police in Ontario, but is new to Kelowna and had no other dealings with the RCMP here.”
Mike Odenbach, owner of Western Star Auctions of Kelowna, said he felt “shock and surprise” about the arrest in a memo printed on one side of handouts describing the 108 items up for auction Saturday.
“We do not have sufficient information to comment on Mr. Raney (sic) or his situation,” the memo said.
Several dozen bidders waited almost three hours for item No. 92, the gem, to come up.
There were no bids. The process could have been reopened after the final item was sold, but that didn’t happen. A female co-owner of the gem requested anonymity.
“There was definitely interest in it,” Odenbach told reporters afterward. “Maybe with what’s gone on recently, it was a bit much for people. It’s not a nice situation.”
He said the emerald’s fate is up to the consignors.
“Whatever they choose to do with it is up to them. I hope somehow (it) finds a spot in Kelowna.”
It’s normal for higher-end items to be put up for bids later in the auction, he said.
“We hope to keep bringing really good product to Kelowna and giving the people of Kelowna an opportunity to come out and purchase an item like that.”
Although it was initially reported the emerald wouldn’t be auctioned off as a result of Reaney’s arrest, the decision was made to go ahead after all, said Odenbach.
“We built this auction on Teodora, but we had all these other consignors that had their stuff in here. There was more to it than Teodora.”
Odenbach said he spoke three times to the certified appraiser at Premier Gems in Calgary, and the gem specialist stood by his assessment of the 57,500-carat emerald. There were also reports it had been listed on eBay for $10,000.
“At the end of the day, life goes on. It can’t ruin everybody else’s time,” said Odenbach.
“We just can’t close up shop because of something that happened. I feel that we put our best foot forward. We did the best job we could.”