Watches returned 26 years after 'costliest heist in Israel's history'

Included in the batch was a pocket watch made by eminent watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet for Queen Marie Antoinette, worth $30 million.

By MEL BEZALEL
March 22, 2009 21:44
1 minute read.
Watches returned 26 years after 'costliest heist in Israel's history'

old expensive watch 248.88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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Forty-two priceless watches were set to return from France on Sunday night to the Jerusalem museum from whence they were stolen 26 years ago. Clues leading to the missing Sir David Salomans watch collection - once displayed at the L.A. Meyer Museum for Islamic Art - first surfaced three years ago when a Tel Aviv watchmaker telephoned museum director Rachel Hasson to report that he had been asked to appraise some of the stolen watches. Included in the batch was a pocket watch made by eminent watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet for Queen Marie Antoinette, worth $30 million. The treasured pocket watch, together with the other timepieces discovered three years ago, were immediately returned to the museum, and the 42 watches arriving in Israel on Sunday will join them. The more recently discovered items, recovered by French police in November, were handed over to Israeli Ambassador to France Daniel Shek, and will not be exhibited until May. Additional watches are still being sought by investigators. "The watches are being taken directly to a vault, as some of them are in good condition and some have been taken apart," the museum's registrar said. Na'aman Diller, one of Israel's best-known criminal minds of the 1960s and 1970s, confessed to stealing the 106 pieces to his wife on his deathbed. The 1983 theft was the costliest in the state's history. The collection once belonged to Sir David Lionel Salomans (1851 to 1925), whose philanthropist daughter, Vera Frances Salomons (1888 to 1969), donated it to the Jerusalem museum that she had founded.

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