The $250,000 Diamond That Was Lost In a Car Race

The history of Formula 1 racing is full of controversy, usually related to sneaky engineering or the action on the track, but nothing compares with what happened at the 2004 Monaco Grand Prix race. The drivers and sponsors of Jaguar Racing rolled into that race weekend looking to score some points and make a splash with a big promotion tied to the film Ocean’s Twelve, the highlight of which involved the team placing real diamonds worth approximately $250,000 each on the nosecones of its two cars in the race. If you’re already thinking that sounds like a bad idea, you’re onto something. As it happened, Jaguar driver Christian Klien crashed out on the very first lap, getting caught up in traffic and losing his front wing when he speared into the wall on a hairpin turn. Klein was uninjured, his car was wrecked, the race continued, but one thing was missing: the button-sized diamond previously affixed to the car’s nose. It vanished, never to be seen again, sparking a mystery that remains unsolved today. The PR firm, however, wasn't concerned. Their theory was: “If there was no jeopardy, there wouldn’t be a story in the first place.” While it would have been prudent to use stunt diamonds, the PR firm insisted that was out of the question. All parties knew the risks going in. Besides, Jaguar already had press shoots with George Clooney, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon at the race. Naturally, plenty of photos of the crash were taken, but none revealed who walked away with the diamond. Of course, there’s also a chance that the diamond accidentally got swept up with other debris after the race and was somehow trashed. Unfortunately, there wasn’t an insurance company on the planet that would insure diamonds that were going into a Grand Prix race. In the end, Steinmetz Group, the diamond dealer that provided the diamonds, didn’t take issue with the loss. The huge exposure of the event was of far more value to the brand than a single lost diamond.