teddy roosevelt's watch
Credit: NPS

The Long-Lost Pocket Watch of Teddy Roosevelt Returns Home

Federal agents recovered a pocket watch belonging to President Teddy Roosevelt after it had been missing for nearly 40 years.

The National Park Service said on Thursday that federal agents recovered a pocket watch belonging to President Teddy Roosevelt after it had been missing for nearly 40 years.

"The stories this watch could tell over the last 126 years include colorful and profound moments in American history," said Jonathan Parker, superintendent of the Sagamore Hill site. He added that the "beloved family heirloom" will soon be back on public display.

How the Feds found Teddy Roosevelt's missing pocket watch

After Roosevelt died in 1919, the watch was given to the Sagamore Hill site, where it was on display until 1971. At that time, the Park Service loaned it to the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site in Buffalo, New York. The watch remained there until it was reported stolen in 1987.

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Between the years 1987 and 2023, it's unclear who had the watch. In fact, very few details about the theft are publicly available. The Buffalo News reportedly only had a 123-word news brief about the incident. Then, the watch wouldn't be seen again until 2023.

Thirty-six years after the watch went missing, it appeared at an auction house in Clearwater, Florida. While the company initially listed the watch for sale in March 2023, they removed it after authorities notified them. Then, the Park Service with the help of the FBI seized the watch through the asset forfeiture process.

Teddy Roosevelt's watch

Teddy Roosevelt's watch. Credit: NPS

Roosevelt's 'fairly pedestrian' pocket watch

According to the announcement, Roosevelt's youngest sister Corinne Roosevelt Robinson and her husband, Douglas Robinson, Jr., gave him the silver timepiece as a gift in 1896. Then, he carried it with him during adventures all around the world, including charging up San Juan Hill and exploring both the African continent and the Amazon River.

In a statement, Special Agent Robert Giczy, of the FBI's Art Crime Team, described the watch as "fairly pedestrian." He said it's a Waltham 17 jewel watch with an inexpensive coin silver case. It also has an inscription that reads: "THEODORE ROOSEVELT FROM D.R. & C.R.R."

Before the watch was reported stolen in 1987, it had a reported value of less than $1,000, but by the time it popped up in Florida, it was worth millions. According to an announcement, the watch will be returned to Roosevelt's family home at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site.