A Florida auctioneer was about to sell an 1800s pocket watch. He learned it was a stolen piece of US presidential history

A pocket watch that belonged to Theodore “Teddy” Roosevelt was returned to his New York home this week after it was stolen decades ago and later showed up at an auction, according to the FBI and the National Park Service.

Roosevelt’s sister, Corinne Roosevelt Robinson, and his brother-in-law, Douglas Robinson Jr., gifted him the watch just before he left for the Spanish-American War in Cuba in 1898, according to the park service.

On the inside of the watch reads the inscription: “THEODORE ROOSEVELT FROM D.R. AND C.R.R.” the park service said.

The silver watch traveled with him during the war, while hunting in Africa and exploring the Amazon in South America, according to the park service.

After the 26th president’s death in 1919, his watch was kept as a memento and eventually given to the park service to be put on display at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site on Long Island.

In 1971, the watch was loaned out, initially on a six-year term which was later extended, to the Theodore Roosevelt Inaugural National Historic Site in Buffalo, New York.

But on July 21, 1987, the watch was stolen from the site, where it was last seen on display at the site’s Ansley Wilcox House in Buffalo.

It wasn’t until last year when the watch reappeared 36 years later at an auction in Florida, the park service said. The auctioneer realized whose pocket watch it was and contacted the historical sites and the park service.

The park service and FBI then got involved and worked together to verify the watch was the former president’s stolen watch from 1987.

“The repatriation of the watch would not have been possible without the close collaboration between the FBI and NPS,” FBI Special Agent Robert Giczy said in a news release Thursday. “This partnership ensured that this historic treasure could be returned safely for future generations to enjoy.”

The watch, described by the FBI as a Waltham 17 jewel watch, was returned Thursday to New York to be placed at Roosevelt’s home at the Sagamore Hill National Historic Site and can be viewed by the public for the next three months.

It was never determined who stole the watch from the display and how it eventually ended up in Florida, according to the park service.

CNN’s Ashley R. Williams contributed to this report.

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