Employees at Manhattan’s J. Birnbach jewelry store made a $5 million mistake last week when they accidentally threw out a trove of the Fifth Avenue retailer’s precious diamonds.
Police initially attributed the missing gems — one of which turned out to be worth a cool $3.2 million — to a robbery. Owner Jonathan Birnbach told authorities he’d left a safe unlocked for easy access, with the diamonds stowed away in three unsuspecting wooden boxes.
Authorities determined employees accidentally threw the boxes in the trash in the midst of a move. The story took an even stranger turn as a security guard happened to go trash-diving and unearthed the gems, whereupon he allegedly sold some to another jeweler in the same building for $10,000 in cash. He allegedly kept the largest and most valuable 17-carat stone.
After witnessing the discovery and sale on surveillance footage, police arrested the guard, 47-year-old Wilfred Martinez, and charged him yesterday with criminal possession of stolen property. Police recovered the $3.2 million stone, along with two smaller diamonds and $10,000. Investigators are still trying to track down the rest of the diamonds.
So was it an accident after all? Interesting.