Man claims Christie's trying to sell his own £10,000 Rolex back to him

Philip McColl was given the watch by his former employer, Raul Gardini

Man claims Christie's trying to sell his own Rolex back to him

A yacht engineer from Cornwall claims Christie's auction house are trying to sell him back his own Rolex.

Philip McColl, 68, was given the pricey timepiece by his former boss, billionaire Raul Gardini, but lost it in 1998.

He was working on a passenger boat at the time and was under the assumption that the watch had fallen into the water, despite going diving and searching the boat, he never recovered it.

Mr McColl was under the impression that the watch, which is understood to be worth around £10,000, had been lost to the waters near Falmouth in Cornwall.

However, it seems to have reappeared after Mr McColl received a phone call from Christie's in Geneva just six weeks ago, the Telegraph reports.

The sailor claims the auction house tried to negotiate with him to buy the Rolex back (visible in the photo below).

Man claims Christie's tried to sell him his own watch back

Mr McColl contacted the Devon and Cornwall Police who are currently looking into the case.

However, there has been no suggestion that the auction house was aware the watch may have been stolen.

A spokesman for Christie's said: "The watch in question was recently consigned to Christie's in Geneva. As part of our research into provenance, Christie's contacted Mr McColl.

"Mr McColl recognised the watch, which he had owned in the late 1980s. The matter was passed to our legal department to investigate the question of ownership.

"Christie's is holding the watch in safekeeping while the legal position is clarified."

Man claims Christie's trying to sell his own £10,000 Rolex back to him

Mr McColl worked with Mr Gardini (pictured above right on board Il Moro di Venezia in 1991) on improving the speed of his yachts.

Gardini, who passed away in 1993, had the Rolex Submariner engraved with the words 'Il Moro di Venezia, Phil McColl world champion, maxi yacht, 1988' before he gave Mr McColl the watch.

He said: "For me it's not the value of the watch - it has no value.

"If it was bought from the market in Plymouth, I wouldn't care. I felt for years I had let him (Mr Gardini) down by losing it.

"It's quite an emotive issue for me. This person has had the watch for 17 years on his arm."

Devon and Cornwall Police have released a statement saying: "We are working with the owner and with Christie's in Switzerland to identify whether there are investigation opportunities at this time."

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