Authorities Recover Roosevelt’s Stolen Watch Decades Later

Authorities Recover Roosevelt's Stolen Watch Decades Later

( – Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was the nation’s 26th president. He held office from 1901 to 1909 and was well known for his successful efforts in ending the Russo-Japanese War. However, in 1987, one of his prized possessions, a pocket watch, was stolen from the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site in Buffalo, New York. It took more than 30 years, but it has now been rightfully returned to its designated location.

In 1919, when Teddy Roosevelt died, one of his pocket watches, which had been gifted to him by his youngest sister, Corinne, and brother-in-law, Douglas Robinson, Jr., in 1898, when he was headed to Cuba for the conflict there. The Waltham 17 jewel watch had his name and initials inscribed on the back, and while it was made with inexpensive coin silver and wasn’t worth a lot of money, it had significant sentimental value.

Sagamore Hill National Historic Site held possession of the pocket watch but was known to lend it out for exhibitions. In 1971, it loaned the timepiece to the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site. The original term was for six years, but it was extended. It was during this time that the watch was stolen. It was reported missing in July 1987 and didn’t resurface until 2023, nearly 40 years later. The National Park Service (NPS) and the FBI Art Crime Team were involved in the investigation into the missing watch.

A Florida auctioneer received the timepiece in 2023 and was planning to auction it off. CNN reported that he was the one who reached out to the historical sites and the park service. However, The Washington Post reported that conducted hundreds of hours of research into the piece, but said no one believed that it could be the real deal. When authorities showed up looking for the watch, he realized he was right. After the agencies confirmed that it was, indeed, the missing Roosevelt watch, they worked to undergo the repatriation process, which involved asset forfeiture. It was finally back at home at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site on June 27. Representatives of the FBI and NPS attended the event.

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