REWRITING HISTORY: The New York Times Magazine on Sunday ran an ultraflattering profile of billionaire diamond-magnate Lev Leviev, a 51-year-old Uzbekistan-born Israeli immigrant who prides himself on his vertical operation in owning diamond mines in addition to polishing and cutting stones, his philanthropy (he aspires to the likes of Bill and Melinda Gates) and his diverse and thriving businesses, from gas stations to 7-Eleven franchises. Leviev is due to open a store for his ultraexpensive jewelry brand on Madison Avenue next month.
But the six-page Times feature omitted a key fact about Leviev. The tycoon, who has close ties to the Russian government and started in the diamond industry as a teenager, has tinkered with diamond jewelry before. He had an investment in Vivid Collection, a diamond brand with a selection not unlike Leviev's — such as an 83.9-carat white and pink diamond necklace and an average price of $400,000. Vivid was dissolved after it was accused of bribing diamond graders from the Gemological Institute of America. The case is in the hands of authorities, according to a spokeswoman from the GIA, and some of Vivid's inventory has even been incorporated into the Leviev lot.
In an e-mail to WWD last month, Leviev described his interest in Vivid as "negligible," and said that, to his knowledge, the cased is closed. Those affiliated with the debacle aren't legally permitted to discuss it, and one of Vivid's principals is said to be in hiding.
— Sophia Chabbott