Gerald Tsai Jr., 78, says in his lawsuit that after he and Sharon Bush, 55, agreed to marry in October 2006, he bought her the rectangular yellow diamond ring from Saks Fifth Avenue for $243,000. It is now worth much more, he said.
Tsai's lawsuit says "the sole and exclusive consideration, motivation and reason" for giving the ring to Bush was their "contemplated marriage." He says he and Bush agreed she would return the ring if they decided not to marry.
The engagement was called off on Jan. 23, Tsai's papers say, and he asked for the ring back. But Bush, formerly married to the president's younger brother, Neil Bush, has refused to return it, the lawsuit says.
Tsai's lawsuit, filed Monday in state Supreme Court in Manhattan, asks for the ring's "fair and reasonable replacement value" of $434,000.
Tsai insists it's an engagement ring, reports Early Show correspondent Benno Schmidt, but Bush says it's a friendship ring.
"You can see it from ten tables away," diamond specialist Robert May, head of the Natural Color Diamond Association, remarked to Schmidt. "I would call it a ten-table ring."
"If the marriage does not occur," says CBS News legal analyst Lisa Bloom, "she's required under the law to give it back, because it's a gift in contemplation of marriage, the marriage didn't happen, the ring goes back."
Bush's lawyer, Raoul Felder, told Schmidt the ring was a Christmas gift, and Tsai is guilty of faulty memory.
Tsai and Bush both have homes on Manhattan's Upper East Side.
Sharon and Neil Bush, 53, divorced in April 2003 after 23 years of marriage and three children, including model Lauren Bush. During divorce proceedings, Neil Bush said he admitted to his wife that he had been seeing Maria Andrews, once a volunteer for former first lady Barbara Bush. He described his marriage then as "broken" and "loveless."
Neil Bush began seeing Andrews in 2002. The two married in March 2004 in a small ceremony attended by former President George H.W. Bush and Barbara Bush.
Tsai, born in Shanghai, China, began his investment career in 1951 as a security analyst at Bache & Co. Since then he has bought, sold and run several companies. He is a director at Apollo Investment Corp. in New York.