Valuable Garbage

Valuable Garbage

Before Maximilian became emperor of Mexico, he purchased two large diamonds. One was a forty—two—carat stone, later known as the Emperor Maximilian, which he wore in a bag around his neck during his execution in 1867. It is now part of a private collection.

The other was a greenish—yellow fifty—carat gem that he bought in Brazil. He had it cut into a thirty—three—carat cushion—type stone and gave it to his wife—to—be, Princess Carlotta. It became known as the Carlotta.

The beautiful Carlotta diamond disappeared after his execution but turned up in 1901 when two men tried to smuggle it into the United States. The customs officials confiscated the gem and later auctioned it off for $120,000. In 1961, while in the possession of a New York jeweler, it met a rather unglamorous end.

The gem was secretly kept in a safe in the jeweler's home and zealously guarded. One evening when the jeweler's daughter was alone in the house she became alarmed because she thought she heard a burglar prowling around downstairs. The diamond was not at that time locked in the safe and was dangerously exposed. The frightened girl impetuously hid the diamond in a garbage pail! The burglar, as it turned out, was a product of her imagination. Nevertheless, no attempt was made to retrieve the stone until the next day. By that time the sanitation men had already collected the garbage. The Carlotta, now part of the New York landfill, has not been seen since.

From the book: 
Our Fascinating Earth