London jeweler sues in Manhattan for return of 16-carat diamond stolen in 2009

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Diamonds

Diamonds

A massive yellow diamond swiped two years ago in a brazen $65 million London robbery landed in a Hong Kong pawn shop — and its owners are suing in New York for the bauble’s return.

The 16.28-carat diamond is the first piece of the stolen jewelry located since the wild 2009 armed robbery at Graff Diamonds Ltd.

The stunning sparkler is now in the hands of the Gemological Institute of America on Fifth Ave., where it was brought by the pawn shop owners to certify its worth.

In court papers, Graff demanded return of the purloined diamond, declaring it was “the only rightful owner” — and not the Yau On Pawnshop.

“Because the diamond was stolen from Graff, no party in the chain of custody subsequently possessing the diamond, including Yau, has good title,” the documents filed in Manhattan state court claim.

Spokeswomen for Graff in London and New York declined to comment on the case.

But the court papers indicate the fight began nearly a year ago, with Graff first demanding the diamond’s return on Jan. 26, 2011.

The diamond was part of a massive heist on Aug. 6, 2009, when four thieves — including a pair wearing theatrical makeup as a disguise — pulled off the biggest jewel theft in British history.

The sophisticated plan included a series of getaway cars, with one man on a motorcycle purportedly speeding away while toting a black plastic bag filled with the valuables.

A huge reward was posted for help in tracking down the motorcyclist, who remains at large. Four other men were convicted in the heist, although the investigation is ongoing.

The GIA — which had inspected the diamond before it was stolen — notified Graff when the pawn shop turned it over for evaluation.

“Yau is not a good-faith purchaser,” the court papers said. “Yau was and/or should have been aware that the diamond was sold to it in violation of the rights of the true owner.”

 

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