LOS ANGELES, CA - The Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department received a call Thursday morning from someone claiming to be the Wizard of Oz, true owner of the so-called "Bahia Emerald." For several weeks, this giant 180,000-carat emerald has been the center of a dispute between several parties claiming to be its true owner.
The man calling himself the Wizard insisted the gem be returned to him immediately, but was informed he would have to first present proof of identity, submit a stolen property report and give a statement to detectives. He replied, "Do not arouse the wrath of the great and powerful Oz!" However, at the officer's insistence, he eventually relented, saying, "I will grant you an audience tomorrow."
As promised, the Wizard arrived at the Sheriff's Department in Los Angeles Friday afternoon. Tethering his giant hot air balloon outside, he greeted officers with much fanfare.
Oz reported all other claims of ownership to be false, asserting that the gem had first been in his possession when it was stolen from a vault at his Emerald City estate nearly seventy years ago. According to the Wizard, it took more than two dozen Munchkins to retrieve the 850-pound jewel from the Mines of Oz. He told detectives he had all but forgotten about the behemoth jewel, mentioning his surprise at seeing it resurface in the news.
As detectives have been unable to ascertain true ownership of the gem, the Sheriff's Department is not ruling out his story. However, they were quick to point out that the Wizard is prone to exaggeration, and that he has proven in the past to be nothing but a fraud and a humbug. In fact, they say his insistence on talking to detectives from behind the privacy of a curtain does not lend any credibility to his case.
Notwithstanding, despite his eccentricity and initial arrogance, everyone agreed the Wizard was actually a quite pleasant man. He presented various certificates and medals of distinction to members of the department before leaving in his balloon.