New York-based Tiffany & Co. caused scandalized ripples in the jewelry industry early this month. According to a federal complaint, the company’s former VP has allegedly stolen and re-sold millions of dollars worth of jewelry.
Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, 46 years old, received charges of wire fraud and interstate transportation of stolen property, and was arrested on July 2 at her posh house in Darien, Conn. She served as Tiffany & Co’s. Vice president for product development between January 2011 and February 2013, before she was terminated when the company downsized.
Lederhaas-Okun’s job included ensuring jewelry design feasibility prior to manufacturing. This meant that she was able to take out some Tiffany & Co. jewelry for estimation costs, and other reasons related to work. According to the federal complaint, the former VP managed to check out around 165 pieces of jewelry with an estimated retail value of $1.2 million. Included were diamond drop and hoop earrings on 18-karat gold, plus platinum and diamond rings and pendants. The alleged theft occurred between November 2012 and February 2013.
When she checked out almost $1.5 million worth of jewelry from Tiffany & Co., Lederhaas-Okun supposedly had them written off, or deemed unusable. This is a practice in the jewelry business that accounts for jewelry which cannot be sold anymore. The jewels were never returned to the company, though.
To whom did the former VP sell the stolen jewelry? The complaint only mentioned “a leading international buyer and reseller of jewelry” who remains anonymous to this day. However, there is mention of a company office in midtown Manhattan, and that the jewelry was sold for $1.3 million. The signed transaction also showed that Lederhaas-Okun maintained that the jewels were her personal property, thus freeing the buyer from any legal implication.