NFL’s Drew Brees seeks $9 million from La Jolla jeweler, alleging bad bling
New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees and his wife, Brittany, are suing a La Jolla jeweler for allegedly lying to them about the value of diamonds he sold them, defrauding them out of millions of dollars, according to a lawsuit filed this week.
According to the complaint in San Diego Superior Court, jeweler Vahid Moradi and his companies, CJ Charles Jewelers and Vahid Moradi Inc., recommended and sold to the couple about $15 million in investment-grade diamonds — which the couple learned last year were only worth about $6 million.
The discrepancy came to light last year after the couple hired an independent appraiser to determine the stones’ market value.
Moradi allegedly confessed to Drew Brees that he had charged the couple a substantial markup for the diamonds, the lawsuit said. But Moradi insisted he had done nothing wrong because he charged the price at which he “expected the jewelry could be resold in 10 to 15 years.”
Reached by phone Wednesday, Moradi referred questions to his attorney, Eric George, of the Los Angeles-based firm Browne George Ross. George provided a statement in response:
“Mr. Brees’ behavior and his belief that he was wronged because the jewelry did not appreciate in value as quickly as he hoped both demonstrate a lack of integrity and contradict basic principles of both economics and the law. He should restrict his game-playing to the football field, and refrain from bullying honest, hard-working businessmen like my client.”
One of the couple’s attorneys, Rebecca Riley of the Northridge-based law firm of Andrew F. Kim, said Wednesday that the Breeses weren’t buying the expensive jewelry to wear. The couple bought the stones solely as an investment to diversify their financial portfolio, and they kept the gems locked in a vault almost all the time.
The couple’s stones were in settings with an eye toward resale in the future, Riley said.
The settings in which the Breeses bought some of their colored diamonds were allegedly engineered to make the stones appear of higher quality and value than they actually were, the lawsuit says.
For example, the couple purchased in early 2015 a pair of natural pink diamonds solely on Moradi’s recommendation, the lawsuit said. The couple bought the diamonds for $975,000, which Moradi told them was an “unbelievable” price, compared with the $1.3 million being asked for them in mid-2014. When the couple had the stones appraised this year, the were valued at $176,398.
Earlier this year, the Breeses had the pink diamonds removed from their settings to prepare them for sale, the lawsuit said. In doing so, they discovered that the diamonds “were set in platinum painted pink to make the stones appear to be of a much stronger and more valuable color saturation,” the lawsuit alleges.
The Brees’ lawsuit seeks at least $9 million in damages, punitive damages according to proof at court, restitution or disgorgement of any money Moradi unjustly obtained from defendants, and other relief the court deems just.
Cook writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune
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