French police have discovered two large safety deposit boxes filled with jewelry belonging to bankrupt Seattle real estate magnate Michael Mastro.
The 87-year-old Mastro and his wife, Linda, 63, are jailed in France after skipping out of a bankruptcy hearing in Seattle last year. They were arrested last month, found living in a village near the border with Switzerland.
Seattle attorney and bankruptcy trustee James Rigby just returned from France, where he helped secure the newly discovered valuables.
The Mastros were recently indicted on 43 criminal counts of bankruptcy fraud and money laundering. “We wanted to make sure that if the Mastros were released from jail, that they weren’t able to scoop up property that belongs to the bankruptcy estate and then make a run for it,” explained Rigby.
More jewelry was found in boxes inside numerous pieces of luggage filled with designer clothes. The newly discovered valuables have not been appraised. “I don’t know what the value is but there are many, many pieces and its got to run to the hundreds of thousands if not the millions of dollars,” Rigby estimated. But that’s still just a fraction of the $250 million creditors are owed.
Rigby confirms the items recovered in France include two large diamond rings, valued together at more than $1 million, that have been at the center of the unfinished bankruptcy case.
Before the newly discovered valuables can be sold and the proceeds distributed to creditors, the French police must finish their investigation, according to Rigby. The goods will then be turned over to the FBI and they’ll be shipped to the U.S. and used as evidence in the criminal case against the Mastros.