One of the world’s most sought-after stolen watches has turned up in Geneva. The luxury Patek Philippe watch was a gift from Yoko Ono to John Lennon just two months before he was murdered.

Everything started in 1980, when Yoko Ono gave John Lennon a gift for his 40th birthday. It was a Patek Philippe watch with perpetual calendar and moon phases, made of 18 carat gold, model 2499 On the back, she engraved a quote from a song the couple wrote together after their separation.

This is a very rare watch. It was produced from 1950 to 1985, with no more than 9 units produced each year. Since then, the Patek Philippe 2499 has become a collector’s item. At the time of purchase, the watch was worth about $75,000, while in 2018, a similar watch was sold at Sotheby’s for $3.9 million.

Le Point magazine commented in 2014: “What happened to the last birthday gift John Lennon received? It’s a mystery. If one day the legendary artist’s legendary Patek Philippe reappears, its value is simply inestimable because this model is very rare, complex and has a special origin.

Then, the judgment of the civil court in Geneva last July revealed more information about the loss of the watch. The verdict explains that, after John Lennon’s death, the watch was transferred to Ono. She kept it in a locked room in her apartment in the Dakota building in New York City, along with other valuables belonging to the star. Next is the character Koral Karsan. This man is a Turkish man who was Ms. Ono’s personal driver for 10 years. This man is one of the few people who has access to all rooms in Ms. Ono’s house.

But in 2006, he broke that relationship of trust and tried to blackmail her. Convicted by a US court, Koral Karsan was deported to Türkiye. Koral Karsan is said to have brought with her a number of items that once belonged to Lennon without Ms. Ono’s knowledge.

These are items such as diaries, concert tapes, eyeglasses and watches. In 2010, the items were transferred to another Turkish citizen named Erhan G, who then sold them to German auctioneers Auctionata AG.

For a long time, Ono suspected nothing. However, in 2017, Auctionata went bankrupt. A lawyer was doing an inventory when he found items belonging to Lennon and notified the police. Mrs. Ono said that she never gave these items to Karsan, even though he claimed to have.

At this time, a criminal investigation took place. Then, a German court in 2019 sentenced Erhan G. to one year of suspended prison sentence for receiving stolen goods. He is said to have turned over 86 of Lennon’s items to Auctionata, knowing that the items may have been stolen. As for the former driver, Koral Karsan is still in Türkiye, so the country refused to extradite him.

However, the disappearance of the watch does not stop here. In fact, it was sold by Auctionata for 600,000 CHF to a person named A. This is a watch collector and long-time expert in the industry, claiming to be a world authority on watches, Italian nationality, permanent residence in Hong Kong (China).

At the time of the November 2013 auction, Patek Philippe issued a statement to Auctionata that the watch was indeed Lennon’s. However, the company did not tell Ono that it had been asked to authenticate the item. Only in June 2014, when A sent the watch to a company in Geneva for valuation, did this company contact Ono. The widow asked to keep it pending compensation to her. Now there has been a legal battle between Ono and the collector.

In A’s view, the watch was not stolen, and even if it were, New York law requires Ms. Ono to file a lawsuit within three years. However, Ms. Ono never claimed the watch was stolen and took no steps to recover it.

However, the court in Geneva rejected his argument, pointing to the sentence of Erhan G. in Germany. “Since the watch was not given to Koral Karsan, he acquired it illegally, thus possessing it was illegal from the start,” the court statement emphasized.

Ms. Ono is represented by two attorneys, Michèle Wassmer and Vincent Guignet from the law firm Borel & Barbey. Meanwhile, the Italian collector has appealed to the Swiss Federal Court.

As for the whereabouts of the famous watch, the court said it remained in Geneva, and was kept for safekeeping by B, the lawyer representing A. The watch will now stay there until there is a final settlement or verdict in the case.


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