Lost watch washes up at Christie’s

A British sailor thought he'd never see the watch he lost in 1988 again – that was until he got a call from Christie's.


When Philip McColl lost a prized watch in 1998, while skippering a passenger boat off Falmouth, Cornwall, he assumed he had dropped it overboard. After three weeks searching for it underwater, he gave up hope of ever seeing it again. But six weeks ago he got a call from Christie's in Geneva, says The Daily Telegraph. The auction house, according to McColl, wanted to know if he wanted to "negotiate" to buy his watch back from the seller, on the condition he kept the matter quiet. "I know it was stolen now," says McColl. "When it turned up, I was flabbergasted."

McColl was given the Rolex Submariner, worth about £10,000, by his friend, Italian billionaire Raul Gardini, whose racing yachts McColl worked on. The back of the watch is engraved with the name of the yacht, Il Moro di Venezia, and the words "Phil McColl world champion, maxi yacht, 1988". Losing the watch was painful since Gardini had committed suicide in 1993. "I felt for years I had let him [Gardini] down by losing it," says McColl.

Christie's says its legal department will "investigate the question of ownership". Devon and Cornwall Police say they are "keen to reunite the owner with an item of such sentimental value". For McColl, negotiating was never an option. "They're holding me to ransom."

Subscribe to MoneyWeek

Subscribe to MoneyWeek today and get your first six magazine issues absolutely FREE

Get 6 issues free

Sign up to Money Morning

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Don't miss the latest investment and personal finances news, market analysis, plus money-saving tips with our free twice-daily newsletter

Sign up



David Bowie's private art collection of more than 400 pieces is to be auctioned off over three days by Sotheby's in London later this month. The lots include the "spin painting" that artist Damien Hirst made with Bowie, called Beautiful, hallo, space-boy paintingestimated at £250,000-£350,000. A free public display of the artworks runs until 10 November at Sotheby's, 34-35 New Bond Street, London, W1S 2RT. Bowie died in January, aged 69.


A lock of Bowie's hair fetched $18,750 (£15,200) in a sale at Heritage Auctions in Beverley Hills, California, in June this year. The hair sample had been taken in 1983 to help create Bowie's waxwork at Madame Tussauds in London, and then kept in a frame for 33 years.

Chris Carter

Chris Carter spent three glorious years reading English literature on the beautiful Welsh coast at Aberystwyth University. Graduating in 2005, he left for the University of York to specialise in Renaissance literature for his MA, before returning to his native Twickenham, in southwest London. He joined a Richmond-based recruitment company, where he worked with several clients, including the Queen’s bank, Coutts, as well as the super luxury, Dorchester-owned Coworth Park country house hotel, near Ascot in Berkshire.

Then, in 2011, Chris joined MoneyWeek. Initially working as part of the website production team, Chris soon rose to the lofty heights of wealth editor, overseeing MoneyWeek’s Spending It lifestyle section. Chris travels the globe in pursuit of his work, soaking up the local culture and sampling the very finest in cuisine, hotels and resorts for the magazine’s discerning readership. He also enjoys writing his fortnightly page on collectables, delving into the fascinating world of auctions and art, classic cars, coins, watches, wine and whisky investing.

You can follow Chris on Instagram.