A Red-Carpet Jeweler Is Charged With Fraud

“A Duchess of Newcastle diamond brooch, circa 1887. A gilded album commissioned by Marie Antoinette in 1781. A carved ivory, enamel and jeweled case made at the request of Czar Nicholaa II in 1893.

Taken together, these intricate pieces and sparkling objects are valued at about $3 million. But they make up only a fraction of the jewelry and other collectibles that federal prosecutors say were at the center of an equally intricate series of frauds orchestrated by Ralph O. Esmerian, the former owner of the jewelry company Fred Leighton, who has draped his glittering treasures around the necks and wrists of celebrities in what some have called a red-carpet marketing campaign.

Agents from the United States Postal Inspection Service arrested Mr. Esmerian, 70, a former board president of the Museum of American Folk Art and one of its biggest patrons, on Monday morning. He was charged with bankruptcy fraud and wire fraud and concealing assets, and he appeared later in the day before a federal magistrate in United States District Court in Manhattan.”

Complete story at The New York Times.

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