For her story in Wired, Elizabeth Weil fell down the rabbit hole of conspiracy, arson, faked kidnapping, bankruptcy, and lawsuits that swirls around the 752-pound Bahia Emerald. In the course of reporting she spent time with many of the rabbit hole denizens, including Ken Conetto, who thought the emerald would be his ticket to retirement in the Mediterranean.
Strewn about are half a dozen pairs of eyeglasses, 10 dog leashes, six La-Z-Boy chairs, more pillboxes than I could count, a giant box of Wheaties with Steph Curry on the front, four bicycles, 10 fleece blankets, three television sets (two on). When I visited he offered me coffee cake, oranges, and bottled water and told me to come back whenever I wanted, a kindness unparalleled by many people I call friends. His mind drifts when he talks. The plots he spins can be hard to follow. If he ever comes into real money, he told me, he’s going to buy a big boat, a tri-hull that will do 50 knots—“I won’t be hors d’oeuvres for a shark!” He’s then going to sail that boat up the Adriatic coast and move into the castle he once saw in Dubrovnik. When his tough-guy veneer falls, Conetto is very poignant. He has an adult daughter, Kendall, whom he named after himself; he hasn’t seen her since she was 3. “I wasn’t ready to get married,” he told me of his early life failings. “I just stayed away.” He thinks the Bahia emerald is garbage. “That thing is a stinking sack of Siberian seal shit.” Every time I visited Conetto I left feeling sad.