France returns stolen watches to Israel

21st March 2009, Comments 0 comments

France on Friday handed over to Israel a stash of precious clocks and watches stolen from a Jerusalem museum a quarter-century ago and discovered in two Paris bank vaults last year.

PARIS - The robbery at the L.A. Mayer Museum of Islamic Art in April 1983 was the biggest heist in Israeli history.

Part of the booty was recovered in November 2007 in Israel, including a rare 18th-century model made for French queen Marie Antoinette by the famed watchmaker Abraham-Louis Breguet, valued at 30 million dollars.

Around 40 of the remaining watches were recovered in Paris last November, as the result of a lengthy investigation by French and Israeli police, across Europe and the United States.

French police handed the watches, worth an estimated 10 million dollars, over to the Israeli ambassador in Paris Daniel Shek.

The collection once belonged to Sir David Lionel Salomons, the first Jewish mayor of London, whose philanthopist daughter left it to the Jerusalem museum.

Na'aman Diller, a legendary Israeli robber, confessed the heist to his wife just before he died in 2004.

Police picked up her trail when she apparently tried to sell the objects after his death.s would take part in a "counter summit" in Strasbourg from March 31-April 5.

AFP / Expatica

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