NEW YORK — Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, former vice president of product development at Tiffany & Co., pled guilty in New York federal court on Friday to stealing more than $2.1 million worth of jewelry from the upscale jeweler.
Arrested on July 2 at her home in Darien, Conn., Lederhaas-Okun, 46, faces up to 46 months in prison after agreeing to plead guilty to one count of interstate transportation of stolen property. This offense normally carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison. Initially, she had also been charged with one count of wire fraud, which carries a maximum penalty of 20 years in jail, but that charge was not mentioned in the plea agreement.
As part of her deal with authorities, the executive, who reportedly worked at Tiffany since 1991, agreed to forfeit $2.1 million and further agreed to restore $2.2 million.
“Diamonds are forever but stolen diamonds are not,” said Manhattan U.S. attorney Preet Bharara. “Over a period of years, Ingrid Lederhaas-Okun, an executive at a high-end jewelry company, looted her employer’s jewelry inventory and then resold millions of dollars’ worth of the merchandise in order to enrich herself. Today, she stands convicted for her thievery and faces the prospect of prison.”
From at least January 2011 until this February — when she was fired by Tiffany — Lederhaas-Okun had begun “checking out” more than 165 pieces jewelry with a retail value of more than $1.2 million. Her haul included numerous diamond bracelets, platinum or gold diamond drop and hoop earrings, platinum diamond rings and platinum and diamond pendants. She then sold some, if not all the jewelry, for $1.3 million to a “leading international buyer and reseller of jewelry with an office in midtown Manhattan,” according to court papers.
The reseller paid for the stolen merchandise either by paying Lederhaas-Okun herself, or her husband in transactions she set up, or a friend working on her behalf. Bharara referenced more than 75 checks written by the reseller, which ranged in value from $7,525 to $47,400, and totaled $1.3 million.
Tiffany became wise to Lederhaas-Okun’s scheme in November, following an internal inventory review. The exec had reported roughly $1.5 million worth of jewelry that she had checked out would have to be written off. But, according to court papers, Tiffany claimed that none of that inventory was ever returned, “contrary to the usual practice,” such as in the case of damaged jewelry, which would have had to be written off because it had been “rendered unusable in some way.”
To cover her tracks, she said she had only recently checked out the missing baubles in anticipation of “creating a PowerPoint presentation for her supervisor,” but that presentation could not be found.
She also claimed the jewelry could be found in an envelope in her office, but that, too, was never found.
Lederhaas-Okun’s crime came as a shock to many industry insiders, who had worked with the jewelry executive over the years.
Several sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, used words like “nice,” “preppy” and “pleasant” to describe the former Tiffany employee.
Lederhaas-Okun is scheduled to be sentenced in New York federal court by Judge Paul Gardephe on Dec. 10 at 2:30 p.m.
@kith is moving into children’s. The men’s and women’s streetwear brand has launched Kidset, a Kith kids line located in New York at 64 Bleecker Street. The line includes mini versions of staple Kith pieces like the Astor bomber jacket and the Kith box logo sweatshirts, along with a wall that can display up to 120 pairs of shoes from @adidas, @newbalance, @timberland and more. #wwdfashion
“I just wanted to create this fully rounded character, but I do think what excited me most was just the opportunity to give a group of people representation that I feel needs it. I like to do characters in projects that stand for something and Karolina definitely does, so that was really exciting to me,” @ginnygardner says of her new role in @hulu’s “The Runaways.” Gardner plays Karolina Dean, a queer superhero, which is a rarity for @marvel. Read more about Gardner’s character on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @dandoperalski)
@heriethpaul and @gracebol have a moment on the @victoriassecret fashion show 2017. See every look from the runway on WWD.com. Link in bio. (📷: @giovanni_giannoni_photo) #wwdfashion #victoriassecret #VSFashionShow
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia