Ultra-rare watch goes around the world after being 'stolen by deer' in Northampton
An ultra-rare watch worth more than £125,000 that was reportedly stolen by a deer in Northampton has been recovered in Switzerland after an around-the-world trip.
The original owner of the Richard Mille timepiece told police and the insurance company a stag known to eat flowers out of his garden had taken it in 2018.
But the watch, known as 'the secret billionaire's handshake', ended up in Dubai where an unsuspecting Hong Kong-based dealer bought it, who then sent it to Switzerland for a service.
The Swiss company realised the watch was stolen and went to Art Recovery International chief executive Christopher Marinello, who negotiated with the buyer to get it back to its rightful owner this week.
“It’s fitting for Christmas, but I don’t buy this reindeer games theory," he said.
"Whoever, whatever, took this watch ended up fencing it in Dubai where a Hong Kong-based watch dealer bought it not knowing it was reported stolen.
"It wasn’t until the watch was sent to Switzerland for service that we were able to confirm the match via the serial numbers.
"High-end watches are no different than fine art. Thefts should be reported to the police and fine art databases like the non-profit Artive Database.”
Back in summer 2018, the watch owner had taken the watch out of a safe in the basement because of a water leak in his home, and placed it on a table in his garden overnight to dry.
He had previously seen a pesky male deer encroaching on his land and eating his plants, so when the watch went missing, he blamed the stag, saying it must have been attracted to the shiny object.
His insurance company believed him and paid out a six-figure sum in compensation and the matter was closed.
Now the watch has been recovered thanks to the Hong Kong dealer's unconditional surrender, it will be given back to the insurer who may then arrange for it to go back to the Northampton owner, Mr Marinello said.
The expert in recovering stolen and Nazi-looted items said there was no evidence of insurance fraud but said the people in Dubai and Hong Kong 'must not have asked many questions'.
Richard Mille is largely known only among the billionaires and the occasional multi-millionaire who can afford them, with some models selling for more £1.6m.